Homily given by Bishop Anthony Randazzo
Bishop of Broken Bay
Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral,
30 March 2021
Throughout history, God has invited humankind into a relationship of love. From the beginning of creation, man and woman were filled with the life-giving breath of God (Genesis 2:7). This holy breath – the animation of the Holy Spirit – is an anointing so sacred, so holy, that it is the foundation of God’s covenant of love. The Spirit binds us to God, to each other, and to the whole of creation.
According to the Gospel of Luke (4:18-19), Jesus read from chapter 61 of the Prophet Isaiah in the Synagogue at Nazareth. This evening we have listened to both the Prophet and the Prophecy. We should not be surprised that both are the fruitful work of the Spirit.
Jesus, the Eternal Word of God, declared, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me” (Isaiah 61:1). His anointing by the Spirit adds nothing to him because he is God. Rather, Jesus’ anointing reveals Him as the Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. This truth is at the very heart of what we do this evening.
The annual celebration of the Chrism Mass is not simply for the blessing and consecration of oil. Nor is it primarily the commemoration of the ordained priesthood. It is the recollection of the anointing of Our Saviour, who is the Christ, the Holy One of God. Of course, it does not end there. Our Eucharistic celebration also reveals the anointing of the Spirit in us, the living Body of Christ. Each time we are anointed by the Spirit, through baptism, confirmation, holy orders, or indeed in every moment of our sacramental life, we are configured more closely to Jesus and the presence of the Spirit of God is revealed in each of us.
Some interpret this as being initiated into a type of club. They would be mistaken. Others see this as merely a sign of belonging. That is a limited understanding. The anointing by the Spirit is the fulfilment of God’s promise to be faithful. To redeem creation. To liberate humanity from slavery to sin. To prepare a dwelling place for us in heaven, for all eternity.
My brothers and sisters, this is the Good News of Jesus Christ that we proclaim this evening. He alone is the Word of everlasting life. His message of salvation is for all to hear and believe. It is not just for us who have received it. It is for those who have not yet heard it. The Good News is for those who desire to receive it and have no one to proclaim it.
As disciples of the Lord, we have been anointed by the Spirit and like Jesus we have been given power (cf. Acts 1:8). I am not speaking of some earthly rule or jurisdiction. We have seen what comes of that when we alone are at the helm.
The power that comes from anointing in the Spirit is the power to be witnesses. It enables us to speak with humble authority and to announce that the Good News belongs to the poor, the captive, the downtrodden, and the outcast. It is to speak with honesty and integrity of what the Lord has done for you and for me. It is to testify that the death of Jesus on the cross is the fulfillment of the day of atonement for our sins (cf. Heb 4:14).
My brothers and sisters, how are we to announce this Good News? By what means are we to take up the words of the Prophet and be one with the Prophecy? I believe that the answer can be found in our Lenten pilgrimage and penance. These forty days have been a time of conversion for us as disciples of the Lord. Our conversion is always to Christ. It begins by recalling our Christian dignity as baptised members of His Body. It continues through the ongoing renewal that is initiated by the anointing of the Spirit through confirmation, and it is brought to completion by holy communion with Christ sacrificed on the altar of the Cross.
Once initiated into the mystery of faith, the disciple is bound to be a herald of the Good News to others. Not because of an imposed duty or obligation, but because of the hope and joy that comes from knowing Christ the Lord. This work is for all the baptised and is at the heart of the Christian mission.
In our community of the Church, some are anointed as priests. Tonight, our priests will renew their commitment to priestly leadership and service.
My brothers, our people are in need of holy priests. In his letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul reminds us what the true source of this holiness is when he says: “We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection, through whom we are saved and delivered” (Galatians 6:14).
Our people do not need us to be the biggest, the brightest, or the best. They do need us to be humble, gentle, and kind. The people entrusted into our care come to us seeking spiritual direction and accompaniment. They desire to be nourished by well prepared and meaningful preaching. They seek solace, healing, and forgiveness for their sins in the sacraments of Penance and Anointing. They hope for support in their married and family life. They expect that we teach with fidelity the truths of our faith. They have a right to know that the youngest and the most vulnerable members of our community are safe, and they expect that you too are not compromised or put at risk.
Most importantly, they seek in you, their priests, the person of Christ the Good Shepherd. He alone is priest, and through your anointing you are configured to Him, in a new covenant of love on the cross.
My dear people, pray for your priests. They are good men who entreat God’s blessings for you. They intercede for our community of the Church, and through their sacred duties, they sustain our people for their mission in the world.
This evening we bless and consecrate these oils which will be used over the next year throughout our diocese of Broken Bay. May they be an outward sign of the interior movement of the Spirit. May we be united in our vocation to holiness, and through us, may the world know that Jesus Christ is Lord. Amen.