Chrism Mass 2014

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We can feel the faith and vitality of our diocesan Church as we gather for the Chrism Mass.  There is a special closeness we feel as we pray for our priests who renew their priestly promises at this Mass.  There is also a feeling of joy as this liturgy is associated with the holy oils.  The prophet Isaiah spoke of a messenger, the Servant of the Lord, who would be anointed and sent to give the people oil of gladness in place of mourning.  Our Lord read this passage in the Nazareth synagogue and proclaimed: Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.  Jesus gives us the oil of gladness.  He is the Servant of the Lord prophesied by Isaiah.  The Spirit of the Lord was upon Him and anointed Him to bring glad tidings to the poor
There is an  element of joy associated with the holy oils, especially the chrism.  Joy and comfort, healing and grace, will be poured out on those anointed with these oils. The gifts of the Holy Spirit will be poured out on those anointed with the chrism in the three sacraments that communicate a permanent character: Baptism, Confirmation, and priestly and episcopal ordination.  Chrism evokes joy: the joy of new life, the joy of salvation, the joy of the Gospel.  Appropriately, it has a beautiful and fragrant smell. 
The chrism also evokes strength.  God says of King David in Psalm 89:  With my holy oil I have anointed him, that my hand may always be with him and that my arm may make him strong.  These words can properly be applied to our priests, men anointed and strengthenedby God to be servants in His Kingdom.  My brother priests, at ordination our hands were anointed with chrism, a sign of the Holy Spirit and His power!  God took our hands to make them His own in the world, to make them instruments of service to His people.  In the Old Testament, anointing was the sign of being taken into service.  Kings, prophets, and priests were anointed for God’s service.  We were anointed for God’s service, to continue the mission of Jesus.  The Spirit came upon us to act for the mission of Jesus, just as the Spirit came upon Jesus to act for the mission of the Father. 
Pope Francis gave us a beautiful image in his Chrism Mass homily last year.  He spoke about the anointing of the Old Testament priest Aaron (psalm 133).  The precious and fragrant oil ran down Aaron’s head, beard, and to the end of his priestly robe.  It went to the edges, meaning that his priestly service was to extend to the edges of society.  Jesus says this clearly about His own ministry: it was “for the poor, prisoners, and the sick, for those who were sorrowing and alone.”  The Holy Father said to the priests: “the ointment is not intended just to make us fragrant, much less to be kept in a jar, for then it would become rancid… and the heart bitter.”  The Pope then said some very important words: “a good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed.” A GOOD PRIEST CAN BE RECOGNIZED BY THE WAY HIS PEOPLE ARE ANOINTED.&nb