Chrism Mass 2021

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The Collect of the Chrism Mass recalls that God anointed His only-begotten Son with the Holy Spirit and made us sharers in His consecration. Thus consecrated or anointed, we asked God to grant that we may bear witness to His Redemption in the world. All of us, priests and laity, deacons and religious, are God’s anointed ones, united to the Anointed One, the Christ, by our Baptism. Sharing in His consecration, like the first believers in Antioch, we are called Christians, thus sharing in Jesus’ title “Christ.” This is our identity: anointed ones, sharers in Jesus’ consecration, with the mission of bearing witness in the world to His Redemption. The name of the oil that will be consecrated at this Mass also refers to Christ: chrism. We’ve all been anointed with the sweet-smelling oil of chrism. God has anointed us to His service in Baptism and Confirmation and given us a mission: to offer Christ to the world and the world to Christ. We who bear the name “Christian” are united to the One whom blessed Isaiah prophesied, to Jesus who read Isaiah’s words in the synagogue of Nazareth “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me.”

All of us who bear the name “Christian” have received a priestly mission, as we heard in the reading from the book of Revelation, which says Jesus “made us into a Kingdom, priests for His God and Father.” And in His Church, Jesus has anointed some of us for a unique sharing in His priesthood through the sacrament of Holy Orders. My brother priests, we renew our priestly promises at this Chrism Mass. We reaffirm our commitment to our mission of priestly service to the people of God and our commitment to holiness with renewed zeal.

In the Responsorial Psalm of this Mass, Psalm 89, the Lord says: “I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him. That my hand may always be with him; and that my arm may make him strong.” God anointed the young David, making him king over Israel, through the anointing with oil by the prophet Samuel. With this anointing, the first book of Samuel tells us that “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.” Already in the Old Testament, 1,000 years before the coming of Jesus, the relationship between anointing with oil and anointing with the Spirit was well-established in the mind of Israel. Jesus, though, was not anointed with oil. His anointing was not by human hands. The Father Himself anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit.

When we all were anointed with chrism at our Baptism and Confirmation and when we priests were anointed with chrism at our ordination, it wasn’t simply ordinary oil. In the fourth century St. Cyril of Jerusalem taught the newly baptized: “Beware of thinking that this holy oil is simply ordinary oil and nothing else. After the invocation of the Spirit it is no longer ordinary oil but the gift of Christ, and by the presence of his divinity it becomes the instrument through which we receive the Holy Spirit. While symbolically, on our foreheads and senses, our bodies are anointed with this oil that we see, our souls are sanctified by the holy and life-giving Spirit.”

Olive oil symbolizes many things. One of them is strength. In ancient times, athletes who entered th