Thursday, 6 April 2023 : Holy Thursday, Chrism Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this occasion today, which is typically celebrated in the morning of Holy Thursday just before the beginning of the most solemn Easter Triduum, the Church all around the world usually celebrates the Chrism Mass, in which the holy oils to be used in the various purposes in the life of the Church are blessed and sanctified, and the bishop of the diocese together with all the priests of the diocese together commit themselves anew to the Lord, in their priestly ministry, in ministering to the people of God, the flock of the Lord. In this morning’s Mass, the whole Church gathers together in prayer, united with the whole presbyterate and the bishop, in recalling the ministry of priesthood that Christ our Lord Himself has instituted on this day at the Last Supper that He had with His disciples.

In our first reading and Gospel passage today, we heard the passage from the Book of the prophet Isaiah in which the Lord proclaimed His salvation and the coming of His grace and love into our midst, as He reassured all of His beloved people that He always remembers them, and He will never abandon any of them, as well as any of us, at any time, since He truly loves us all, and He wants us to be saved and be reconciled with Him. That was why, He revealed through the prophet Isaiah and His many other prophets and messengers, that He will send unto us His Holy One, His Messiah and Saviour, the One Who in our Gospel passage today, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man proclaimed before all the assembled people, that everything which God had promised them and their ancestors, all had become true and been fulfilled with His coming, Him being the Messiah long awaited.

Then, in the same readings we have also heard how this Holy One of God came unto us to bring us healing from God, healing for those who were sick and afflicted by various maladies and hardships, consolation and strength for those who were grieving and without hope, as well as the comfort of His truth and love, opening the eyes of the blind, both of our physical eyes and also for all those who are physically fit, the ‘eyes’ of our hearts and minds, that we all may see and recognise the truth of God. That was what the Lord Jesus has been tasked to do by His Heavenly Father, to be the One to bring the love, grace and salvation from God to His people, to be the Bridge that connects us all back to our loving God and Creator. And it is this same mission which the Lord then transmitted to His Apostles, Whom He appointed as the first priests of the Church, to be the servants of God forever.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, that is what the calling of a priest of the Lord is like, and as today all the priests of the dioceses in the world come together with their respective bishops, to renew their commitment and dedication to the service of God, all of them are reminded to follow the Lord more wholeheartedly and to remember that each and every one of them are truly the representatives of Our Lord Jesus Christ, first of all as the shepherds of the people of God, and during the celebration of the Holy Mass, as the representatives ‘in persona Christi’, acting in the person of the Lord Himself, in consecrating the bread and wine, offering them to the Lord and uniting them to the same Sacrifice made by the Lord on His Cross at Calvary, becoming the Lord’s own Most Precious Body and Most Precious Blood, broken and outpoured unto us all, all of us who partake in His Covenant and His Most Holy Eucharist, the greatest gift that the Lord has given us.

All the priests of the Lord have given themselves and committed themselves to a life of sanctity and celibacy, dedicated completely to the Lord and to the service of His people, and they are all facing a lot of challenges and hardships, which only become more and more in these days, as many trials and attacks face our priests. Yet, despite all of these, they still have to continue to minister to the people of God, caring for them and giving them the guidance that they all needed, so that they may find their way to the Lord, their Chief Shepherd and Saviour. And all these are related to the holy oils that are being blessed in this Chrism Mass happening now as well. Those holy oils are used in many important and integral aspects of our Christian faith, and the priests are charged with the dutiful application of these oils in the many different stages of the lives of those of the faithful people of God, from their birth, right down to the end of their earthly lives.

There are three holy oils in total, namely the Oil of the Catechumens also known as Oleum Catechumenorum, the Sacred Chrism also known as Sanctum Chrisma, and the Oil of the Sick also known as Oleum Infirmorum. Each of these holy oils are important in the life journey of Christians, as the Oil of the Catechumens are used to anoint Catechumens who are preparing themselves to become Christians, in an occasion prior to their baptism. Oil of the Sick by its name, is used to anoint those who are gravely ill and sick, and are usually in the danger of death, as part of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, one of the Church’s seven Sacraments. Meanwhile, Sacred Chrism is used most extensively, in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, as well as in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, in the dedication of churches and Altars, among many other uses. All of these are blessed today by the diocesan bishop, to be used for the good of the Church and the flock of the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we gather together as the whole Universal Church today, united with the bishops and their priests all around the world, let us all unite our prayers and renew our support for all those who have dedicated themselves to God. Our priests have dedicated their whole lives to the Lord and committed themselves, and they face many struggles and hardships, and are in need of the support of the whole Universal Church. We must remember that every members of the Church and the faithful have to be active partakers of the works and the actions of the Church. The bishops, priests and deacons, the ordained members of the Church cannot be the only ones who carry out the works of the Lord and obey God’s will, as each and every one of us are part of the same Church, the same Body of Christ, and hence, have a part to play in the works of the Church, in whatever missions that God has entrusted to each and every one of us.

Let us hence pray for our priests, for the bishops and all those who have been ordained for a specific ministry in the Church, so that the Lord may continue to guide and strengthen them, to resist the many temptations, pressures, coercions, and to endure trials and hardships all around them. Let us all pray for the sanctification of our ordained ministers, that they all may continue to serve the Lord and His people with all of their hearts and minds, and with particular attention to sanctity and purity in their lives and actions. May the Lord continue to bless His Church and all of us, His beloved people, and especially our priests, whom we remember today. May God bless us always, in our every good efforts and deeds, and may He particularly bless our upcoming Easter Triduum observances and commemorations. Amen.

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