Mass of the Holy Chrism
St. Andrew Cathedral
21 April 2011
At the threshold of the great Paschal Triduum, we pause.
We pause, because this year we celebrate no ordinary Chrism Mass. Today, we welcome three priests into the diocesan clergy of Parañaque and – after the Mass – we will announce the new parish assignments of our incardinated priests and deacon. With every diaconal and presbyteral ordination, the brotherhood is renewed; today, however, not only does our brotherhood receives new members, each member also receives a new mission!
We pause, because we hear Christ’s mission echo even in our hearts: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Jesus declares, because he has anointed me to evangelize the poor. But this is more than an echo, for we know that Jesus forgives, frees and saves through us: The Lord sent me… here… to proclaim to captives that they have finally been released and to the blind that they can see – for God hides his face from them no more. Can it be that, today, this scripture is being fulfilled in our hearing? He sent me, Jesus says, to tell those whose spirits are crushed that God is not indifferent to their suffering and that their annual commemoration of God’s saving works is no longer a symbolic reminder of past victories otherwise meaningless and forgotten, but a new beginning – a healing of wounds and a renewal of relationships – because God has revealed who and what he really is: shelter for the lost, justice for the oppressed, mercy for the repentant.
Jesus preached in a synagogue, a Greek word that is rendered in Latin as congregatio. “By this name then the Jews were accustomed to call not only the gathering together of people, but also the house where they met together to hear the word of God; as we call by the name of Church, both the place and the company of the faithful. But there is this difference between the synagogue which is called congregation, and the Church which is interpreted convocation, that flocks and cattle and anything else can be gathered together in one, but only rational beings can be called together” (Theophylact).
All of us here, especially our priests, celebrate that convocatio by reaffirming our original “Yes, I do” to God who called us – even from our mothers’ wombs – to become his priests. Having known for ourselves the challenges of the priestly life and repenting of the mistakes committed in the exercise of priestly ministry, we dare to accept once more that God called us to be faithful brothers in Christ and promise again to be free collaborators with the bishops and with the people of God wherever we are sent. The people of God – the Church we love – deserve nothing less.
My dear sisters and brothers, my dear consecrated men and women, and my beloved priests: Together, let us step forward and enter into Christ’s passion and glory.
+ Jesse E. Mercado, D.D.
Bishop of Parañaque