Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Anoint the Anointed One

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Anoint the Anointed One: My father +Timothy's Chrism Mass Homily

[This is the homily we heard last Tuesday. Remember, thou shalt not covet thy neighbors' bishops! And, don't gripe at me --- I can't help it that we have three bishops with shepherd's hearts here, I can only give thanks for it!]

Like the eyes of all in the synagogue at Nazareth, our eyes are on Jesus.

Jesus is the “anointed one,” the Christ; Jesus is the oil, the balm, the ointment, the consolation, the healing sent by the Father to us.

This evening, with the celebration of His paschal mystery so near, we praise the Father that the anointing He gave His Son continues in His Church, sacramentally through the oil of catechumens, oil of the sick, and sacred chrism; ministerially through the apostolates of those who share in the sacrament of Holy Orders as bishops, priests, and deacons, and in those consecrated in baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist, who are called to service in the Church. Thanks be to God that Jesus, the “anointed one,” Jesus, the oil, the balm, the ointment, the consolation, the healing, sent by the Father remains alive and active through the faithful ministry of His bishops, priests, deacons, and people called to service in His Church.

While heartily praising God for this ministry, I also invite you this evening to anoint the anointed one; I invite you to join the repentant woman in pouring nard on the feet of the Master; I invite you to help Joseph of Arimethea anoint the body of the Christ; I invite you to accompany the women early that first day of the week as they approached the tomb to anoint His body........

I invite you to anoint the broken, bruised, bleeding mystical body of Christ, the Church.

Our worshipping eyes are on Jesus, the anointed one; our grateful eyes are on those priests, deacons, and faithful who minister in His holy name; our loving eyes are on the bruised, bleeding, broken mystical body of Christ, His Church.

Like His mother and His beloved disciple, our patron, we behold His mystical body, His Church, on the cross. The Church is bloodied by division, bruised by scandal, broken by those who taunt her to “come down off the cross.”

Thus does the Church He loves, as His bride, the Church we love and serve, need anointing: with the oil of catechumens as she humbly rediscovers and renews her conversion through dying with Christ in a baptism of blood and suffering so she may rise with Him to a fresh, new, innocent, purified vigor; anointed with the oil of the sick as her wounds are cleansed, salved, and bandaged; anointed with sacred Chrism as she gratefully and confidently rises to her prophetic role as lumen gentium, light of the world.

It is His Church, not ours;
She hands on the faith of the apostles, not the fads of today;
She is ever ancient, ever new;
She is the communion of saints and the assembly of sinners;
Some sneer at her as old, infirm, out of it; some as brash, naïve, too novel;
She can frustrate and confound us;
She can move and excite us.

For we love the Church! One, holy, Catholic, and apostolic ....... We love the Church. And we are called to anoint her.

We often find ourselves saying with Carlo Caretto,

“How much I must criticize you, my Church, and yet how much I love you! You have made me suffer, and yet I owe more to you than to anyone. At times, I should like to see you destroyed, yet I so need your presence. You have scandalized me, and yet you alone have made me understand holiness. Never have I seen anything more compromised, yet never have I touched anything more pure, more generous, or more beautiful. Countless times have I felt like leaving you, yet every night I pray that I may die only in your warm, loving arms. No, I cannot be free of you, for I am one with you. Then, too, where would I go? To build another Church? I could not build one without the same defects, for they are my defects. It would then be my Church, not Christ’s. I am old enough to know better.”

My brothers and sisters in Christ: Love the Church! Anoint the bruised, bleeding, broken body of Christ! With de Lubac we ask, “For what would I know of Him without her?”

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