We are anointed to bring Christ to the world

Archbishop Aymond    The following are excerpts of Archbishop Aymond’s homily at the Chrism Mass celebrated April 3 at St. Louis Cathedral. At the Chrism Mass, the sacred oils used sacramentally by the church throughout the year are blessed, and priests gather to renew their commitment to priestly ministry.
    Many years ago there was a very popular television program, “Walker: Texas Ranger.” It was the usual crime and investigation program that we see on TV so often. I do not remember any of the episodes, but I do remember a phrase that the top cop – the Texas Ranger – said on numerous occasions: “All actions have consequences.”
    It seems as though those words apply to what we see happening in the Gospel today when Jesus is in the synagogue. At first, his appearance seems very innocent, but eventually his actions and words have very serious consequences. We see Jesus unrolling the scroll and reading from the prophet – no problem there. Then, all of a sudden, he says the dangerous words that do have consequences: “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus is, in fact, saying, “I am his anointed one. The Spirit of God is upon me. I am the one humbly sent by God.”
    These words have serious consequences. Luke tells us the people rose up and expelled him from the town and led him to the brow of the hill, intending to throw him over the edge.
    Yes, there were consequences. Nevertheless, that did not stop Jesus from claiming his identity as God’s anointed one. And, as we know, the consequences led to his cruel and unfair death.
    Jesus claimed that all those who are his disciples are also the anointed of God. The very words that Jesus applied to himself are to be held in our hearts, spoken from our lips and lived in our lives. We must say, with him, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, he has anointed me, to bring glad tidings to the poor, freedom to those who are bound, sight to the blind, to set those who are oppressed free.”
    Because we are his anointed ones, we must make sure that we strive to live our lives in such a way that gives witness to Jesus. As we await the synod on evangelization in October, our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, calls us to be more bold in evangelizing others. We must make a difference in our community and in this world.
    In every age there are particular challenges to being the witnesses of Jesus and to being the evangelizers of our time. As we gather for this Chrism Mass, we thank God for anointing us at our baptism and confirmation and in the other moments of our lives. But we also ask the question, how can we be witnesses in our world today? What does it mean in 2012 for us to evangelize?
    First, we must continue to be very bold in calling for the respect of all human life, from the innocent unborn child to those who are terminally ill to those who have disabilities. They are precious in the eyes of God. And so are those on death row who are awaiting execution. Their lives are precious to God and should be more precious to us.
    We must allow God to create a culture of life and not of death. In our own local archdiocese, we must be bold in fighting against murder, violence and racism. Many streets in our city and region have been covered with blood because of hatred and revenge.
    The anointed of today must stand strong because we know that we have a right given to us by our constitution for religious liberty. We want to be able to practice our faith and hold on to our values and what we believe in, yes, in our homes and our churches, but also in our daily lives in the public arena.
    We must be very strong in standing for the sacredness of the sacrament of marriage and for the importance of family life. If we really are the anointed of God, we must be willing to help wounded families whose parents’ love is absent for whatever reasons. In families where drugs, violence and gangs have replaced care and respect, the anointed must reach out in prayer and in action.
    The church uses holy oil to make visible God’s anointing action in our lives. We come here today to bless this oil. From here, it goes out to every parish and Catholic institution in the archdiocese. The oil of catechumens is used to anoint those preparing for baptism, that their minds and hearts may truly be opened to the saving waters of baptism. We bless the holy chrism used at confirmation to anoint us with the power of the spirit. That same oil is used to anoint the hands of newly ordained priests and the altars of churches and to consecrate them – to consecrate you –  in the Lord. And we bless the oil of the sick, which brings God’s healing and comfort to the sick as people bear the cross of illness or old age.
    At this Chrism Mass, we also remember that some of our brothers are called by their vocation to use their hands, hearts and words to do the anointing of God for other people. Yes, these are our priests, who are here in great numbers. I ask you to join me in saying a profound thanks to these men. My brothers, I thank you for hearing God’s call, for saying yes at your ordination and for saying yes, over and over again, day after day. You have said yes when it was convenient and inconvenient, when you were refreshed and when you were tired, when you were understood and appreciated and when you felt that you were taken for granted. Thank you for renewing your commitment and placing again your own life and heart in the hands of Jesus.
    Pope Benedict XVI says to his brother priests that we come each year to the Chrism Mass with gratitude for our vocation and with humility for our shortcomings and sins. He says we renew at this Mass our “yes” to the Lord’s call. In this year, may we continue to grow as brothers. Please know of my personal gratitude. You are indeed my closest collaborators and coworkers in ministry. I am edified by the way in which you die to yourself to lead God’s people. It is my privilege to minister with you. It is also my privilege as bishop to serve you and to support you. Often what is asked of you is humanly impossible, but with God’s help, you continue to live as the humble anointed ones of God.
    To all of us, we remember today that all actions have consequences. By being bold, Jesus was run out of town. I doubt that will happen to us, but, nonetheless, as disciples of the Lord Jesus we must be courageous. We must say in our hearts and on our lips and in our actions that the spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has sent me.
    Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to clarionherald@clarionherald.org.

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