Today we focus ourselves on something very essential to our identity as Christians: the oil for anointing which we bless every year.
In Greek it is called CHRISMA, and the one being anointed is called CHRISTOS. I know that we have gotten used to using the term “Christ” as a name. Some people even think of it as the surname of Jesus. Thanks to Mel Gibson’s movie THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, now we know that Christ is not a name but a title. It is the title we give to Jesus when confess him as our Lord and Savior: Iesou Christos (Jesus, the Christ. Meaning, the anointed one.)
The other English title which is the equivalent of Christ is MESSIAH. I think I’ve told you before that it comes from the Hebrew word MASHIACH, which is the origin of the Spanish MASAJE, the English MASSAGE, and the Tagalog MASAHE.
Ang minamasahe kasi ay nilalangisan muna. Ang boksingerong Inihahanda para sa isang labanan, minamasahe muna. Ganyan din daw sa mga sinaunang sundalo. Kaya pala ang paglalangis ay simbolo ng paghahanda para sa isang misyon.
When I was ordained bishop, Cardinal Dency Rosales poured a whole bottle bottle of oil on my head. It was dripping all over me. It reminded me of Aaron in the psalm: “like oil on the head of Aaron, running down on his beard, dripping down on his collar.” It is a good image of the priest: dripping with oil so that whoever comes close to him is anointed too. Kaya siguro nagmamano sila sa pari, ibig nila kayong lapitan, haplusin, o hawakan: para din sila malangisan.
Hindi lang pari ang nilalangisan kundi ang bawat Kristiyano, sa binyag, di ba. Ang bawat Kristiyano ay nakikibahagi sa pagkapari ni Kristo. We share in his priesthood by living our life as an offering. Sacred gift, banal na handog, ito ang ibig sabihin ng SACERDOS.
Ang pagkapari ng Lumang Tipan ay tungkol sa mga tagapag-alay ng mga hayop, mga tupa o korderong kinakatay upang gawing susunuging handog sa altar upang ipakipagkasundo ang tao sa Diyos. Sa Bagong Tipan binago ni Hesus ang kahulugan ng PAGKAPARI. Ginawa niyang isa: ang tagapaghandog ng hain at ang hain na inihahandog ay hindi na hiwalay. To offer our lives as sacred gifts acceptable to God in the name of Jesus the Christ. We are all called to share in that priesthood of holiness of life.
This reminds me of that song that we used to sing in minor seminary: What shall I offer? Its refrain says, “To you I give my heart and soul and everything that’s dear to me… for all that’s been I give you thanks, for all that’s yet to come Amen, make my like one continuous yes, Thy will be done.”
I have told you many times before that we are anointed not just to become Christians but to become Christ. By that grace of our holy anointing at baptism, by the Gift of the Holy Spirit, we become parts of the body of Christ. And so our mission is to make Christ genuinely present in this world. Don’t ever allow him to be just a memory of the past.
And when ordained presbyters repeat his words THIS IS MY BODY; THIS IS MY BLOOD, he becomes truly present in the Eucharistic bread and wine. When we receive him, Augustine says we do not change him the way we digest ordinary food and transform him to become part of us. It is the other way around; he is the one who transforms us. We receive him so that we can change and grow and become truly part of Christ. If we are part of Christ then we can dare to represent Christ! Don’t just talk about Christ; be Christ. Let Christ talk through you.
Dear brothers in the ordained priesthood. Do not forget that you did not receive the anointing at ordination to monopolize the priesthood. The ordained priesthood has no other purpose than to promote the common priesthood — so that we all are configured to Him who is our Unique High Priest.
Here are three things that I want you to remember about the priesthood we have been anointed for:
1) People do not come to Church to listen to your words. It is God’s Word they wish to hear. Be good ministers of the Word. St Paul said that beautifully to Timothy in 2Tim 4: 2-3. He said, “Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers…”
And do, make it a point to soak in God’s Word. You cannot give what you have not received. Before you can motivate your parishioners to be attentive to God’s Word, you must be yourselves attentive to God’s Word. Even if study is important, let your most important preparation for a homily be your prayer. Always ask not what you want to say, but what God wants to say to his people through you. Remember, It is not your words but His, that matter.
From the first ordination you received, at your diaconate, you were already entrusted with God’s Word. Receive the Word of God whose herald you now are: believe what you read; teach what you believe and practice what you teach.
2) Proclaim God’s Word as a GOOD NEWS, as a message that gives hope. A message that empowers, uplifts, and inspires. Don’t start by telling people they’re bad. Even when we fail, the good news is we can always do better. As expressed well in that song, Hey Jude, take a sad song and make it better.
Assure people that every saint has a past, every sinner has a future. Mas interesado ang Panginoon sa ating ngayon at bukas kaysa ating kahapon. Hindi niya tayo ipapako sa mga kapalpakan ng ating nakaraan. Lagi siyang magbubukas ng pinto para sa isang bagong bukas, bagong pagkakataon.
Each time you preach a homily, ask, what good news does God want me to proclaim today? Do not forget, this is what we have been anointed for: to evangelize, to proclaim a good news! Pope Francis reminds us that evangelium (gospel) and gaudium (joy) always go together. The prayer attributed to St Francis sums it up very well: where there is hatred, let us bring love; where there is injury, pardon; doubt, faith; despair, hope; darkness, light; sadness, joy…
3) Finally, to be anointed is to say: This Scripture is fulfilled. Seek to actualize God’s word. Even if it was a long time ago, let is address present moment, the here and now. Isaiah’s words were a projection into the future. Jesus changed everything the moment he said TODAY, this is fulfilled.
That’s the good news. That the dream of tomorrow can be realized today. After all, remember that God did not introduce himself to Moses as I WAS or I WILL BE. He called himself I AM. Jesus did not preach about a future kingdom. Rather, he announces God’s kingdom coming among us. “Hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…” He means now, here on earth as in heaven. The daily bread that we ask for is for today. Let us give that bread always so our people won’t go hungry.
Proclaim God’s Word not your own. Proclaim it as Good news: bring joy, give hope. Proclaim this good news NOW! Let tomorrow start today. Simulan na ang langit dito sa lupa.
Homily of Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan for Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, 14 April 2022, Lk 4:16-22