Chrism Mass, 2018

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Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One. He affirms this in the synagogue of Nazareth when He reads from the scroll the words of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me.” At the Chrism Mass, we celebrate Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed One, and we give thanks that we share in His anointing and so can be called Christians, the anointed ones, who share in His life and mission. The Lord consecrated us in Baptism and Confirmation to bear witness in the world to His Redemption. And He consecrated our priests through Holy Orders, a special anointing of the Holy Spirit, to be the stewards of the mysteries of His Redemption. At this Mass in which our priests renew their priestly promises, we pray especially for them through whom, in communion with the bishop, Christ our High Priest builds, sanctifies, and shepherds His Body, the Church.

At this Mass, I will consecrate the sacred chrism which will be used in the administration of the sacraments that communicate this share in Christ’s consecration: Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. These are the three sacraments that can only be received one since their effect is permanent. In each of these sacraments, there is an anointing with chrism. Old Testament priests, prophets, and kings were anointed with oil, a sign of dignity and responsibility and of the strength that comes from God. After a baby is baptized, he or she is anointed with chrism, signifying that the child is now a Christian, belongs to Christ, the anointed one of God. Later, anointed with the sacred chrism in the sacrament of Confirmation, the Christian is sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, strengthened by His seven-fold gift to bear witness in the world to Christ and His Redemption. In ordination, the hands of the newly ordained priest or the head of the newly ordained bishop, are anointed with sacred chrism, a sign of their anointing by the Father with the Holy Spirit to act in the name of the Son, in the person of Christ, the Good Shepherd and Head of the Church. In all these sacraments, there is an outpouring of God’s grace, a special configuration to Christ, and a strengthening for the Christian mission in the world.

Since in chrism the olive oil is mixed with balsam, it has a sweet and pleasing fragrance. Recall the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: “In every place, we are the aroma of Christ.” All of us are called by our Baptism and Confirmation, and our priests also by Holy Orders, to spread this aroma of Christ in the world, to spread the fragrance of true life, the love of God that overpowers the stench of despair, greed, hatred, and all the powers that bring harm to people and to the world. We are called to disinfect the world by bearing witness to the Redemption, by living the anointing with the Spirit we have received. Love, joy, and peace are the first fruits of the Holy Spirit. They are the evidence that we are Christians, that we belong to Christ, that we share in His consecration and His mission “to bring glad tidings to the poor.” Love, joy, and peace reveal our identity as Christians. These fruits of the Spirit demonstrate that the title we bear, the title “Christian”, is not just a label, but a reality. When we spread Christ’s love, bear witness to our faith with joy, and bring Christ’s peace to others, we are living our anointing. This is our mission: to offer Christ to the world and the world to Christ. This is what evangelization means: bearing witness to Christ and His Redemption, thereby opening the hearts of our neighbors to the beautiful gift of salvation that God longs to give them. This is what we, priests, religious, and laity, have been an