Homily Chrism Mass 2017
Several years ago one of our Bishops said to Saint Pope John Paul II, “Holy Father I would not want your job for all the money in the world.” The Pope looked up and said “It’s a privilege.”
One of the great privileges, and humbling things for me to do is to lead the renewal of Priestly Promises every year at this Chrism Mass, it moves my heart every year.
Today a number of priests gathered for a day of prayer in preparation for this Mass and Renewal of Priestly promises. In a time of sharing several of them spoke of how privileged we are to minister:
Privileged to say take communion to the sick, to live in the service of the Gospel. Privileged to say “This is my Body”, “I absolve you from your sins.” I have know that one of the other great privileges we have as priests is to celebrate Baptisms.
Last Saturday I baptised two babies. As I anointed them with the Oil of Catechumens and with Chrism I wondered about how many times these oils had been used for Baptism since they were blessed and consecrated at the Chrism Mass a year ago. Chrism was used many times for Baptisms and Confirmations, but not for any Ordinations last year. This year’s Chrism will be used in 3 weeks’ time when Cirilo Barlis will be Ordained to the Priesthood.
I wonder what will happen to those two babies baptised last Saturday. Will they grow up knowing that on a day in April in 2017 the Mystery of the Trinity took life in them? Will they grow up seeing the light of God on faces of their fellow baptised? Will people see the light of God on and in their faces? Will they know that because of baptism they share a deep and profound union with every one of us, with everyone who is baptised?
Do we, the baptised, know that others are part of us? Do we who share the same Spirit of God look to see what is positive in others and welcome and prize them as Gifts from God? Do we make room for others, share their joys and sufferings, attend to their needs and actually think of the fact, that through the goodness of God and the miracle of grace we are in communion with God and with one another. If we do see that we know we are privileged and deeply blessed.
I hope those two children grow up knowing that they belong to the community of the church, that they live in communion with God and one another. I hope we all know that. For we priests our ordinations actually came out of our Baptism, priesthood is the way we responded to our Baptismal call
This year I have called for a Synod. A Synod is about journeying together, listening to one another, and helping one another to respond to the call of the Gospel. Our last Synod had the theme “Salt and Light together.”
We are an extraordinary assembly of people who journey together, supporting each other. People of all ages, of many nationalities, many different ways of praying – but we are – though Baptism – one people. Whether we were baptised and anointed in India, Ireland, New Zealand or England, Samoa or the Philippines, Sri Lanka or Canada, Peru or Fiji – wherever – We are Salt and Light together. Whether it live in Westport or Masterton, Otaki, Kaikoura, Wellington or Upper Hutt – we are “Salt and Light together.”
This year’s Synod theme is “Go, You are Sent”. We are sent to the world around us, charged to take Jesus with us – we are sent together to be salt and light for the world.
Jesus announced in tonight’s Gospel that the Spirit of the Lord had been given to Him, the Spirit of the Lord had anointed him. The same happened to us – God’s Spirit anointed us, wherever and whenever we were baptised. At Baptism and at Confirmation we were anointed; and for some of us we were also anointed and sent at the time of our ordination.
We were anointed and sent to bring good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives,
to give new sight to the blind,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.
We are sent out.
We will reflect prayerfull and intensely this year on that Synod theme “Go you are sent.”
I want and I invite as many people as possible to participate in this years’ Synod. 350 people will attend the weekend in September, but thousands are able to participate in the prayerful listening process preparing for the Synod. I hope that thousands of people will pray too. I want you to do that because we are a people together.
At our baptisms, as for those two babies last Saturday, these words were prayed: “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of his body.” We do live as members of his body when we take seriously the fact that we are chosen and anointed to go out.
In 2009 I took a photo of an old man ouside a railway station in Paris. He was a beggar – I assume that he had nothing. I look at that photo often and I have used it many times when I quote some words of Pope Benedict who said: ”Unless this Eucharist passes over into concrete acts of love it is intrinsically fragmented.” Our Eucharist does not end in our Churches.
We are sent out from every Mass to take Christ with us. Please help the Church of the Archdiocese of Wellington to make a difference in our world. Please pray that every single one of us will hear those words “Go, you are sent,”and that as we go we will do as Pope Francis encouraged us: “Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concerns never take away the joy of our hope.”
We are able to go in joy and in hope from every Mass, because called and anointed in Baptism, in Confirmation and for us in Holy Orders…it is a privilege.