It may seem that the Chrism Mass on Tuesday of Holy Week somehow interrupts the flow of the story, but that is not really the case. It is still part of our journey of remembrance by showing us how we are joined to Jesus not only as one person but as part of His Body.
All three of the holy oils blessed by the bishop at this Mass are essential to our belonging to the Body of Christ. Oil plays an important role in the story of salvation. In the readings at the Mass, Isaiah reminds us of how the coming of the Messiah will replace our mourning with the “oil of gladness.”
Psalm 89 tells us of the anointing of David with holy oil, and in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus uses a passage from Isaiah to announce His special anointing for His Messianic mission.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
So, as Jesus was anointed and David before Him to mark their being set aside for God’s work, the Church uses oils to set all of us aside as members of Jesus’ body (Sacred chrism and oil of the catechumens), holy Orders (sacred chrism) and for healing and our final return to the Father (oil of the sick).
For the occasion of the Mass of Chrism, the Body of Christ is assembled in a special way. On this occasion all the priests of the diocese join their bishop and his assistant bishops, together with the people of God representing the fullness of the Body of Christ and of the priesthood. Important among the participants are the catechumens and candidates who will become members of the body at the Easter Vigil.
On this occasion the bishops and his priests renew their promises to continue their faithful witness of leadership and celibacy as other Christs.
The Chrism Mass brings to mind the reality that we journey with Jesus on His way of sorrows, just as he journeys with us on ours.
Photo Credit: St. Monica Church
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