Last night the Archdiocese of Seattle gathered at St. James Cathedral to celebrate the Chrism Mass. What a beautiful celebration of faith and mission! You can read my homily below, or watch the video which is also included. Check back later for more photos (I hope!) Blessings upon each of you, your family, and this upcoming Holy Week.
As we come together tonight I am mindful of every person who makes up this local church of the Archdiocese of Seattle; Hispanic, Black, Native, Vietnamese, Korean, Pilipino, Anglo, Chinese; young or young at heart; whether member of the ordained priesthood or the priesthood of all the baptized, tonight we recognize that it is the Holy Spirit who makes us into the one family of God. In the words of the Second Vatican Council:
Those who believe in Christ, reborn not of corruptible but of incorruptible seed through the word of the living God, not from the flesh but from water and the Holy Spirit, are constituted in the fulness of time as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people God has made his own…” (Lumen Gentium No. 9)
Dear people of God, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, let us live in peace and unity! Let us live as friends of Christ, and those who extend his friendship to others.
The oils we bless and consecrate this evening remind us of our deepest identity – as those who are created and consecrated by God, through his Son, Christ Jesus, who has lavished upon us the great gift of salvation and divine life through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. As a consecrated people in whom the Holy Spirit dwells we enjoy a great dignity. We are called to serve Christ in others.
Our Opening Prayer this evening lays down the challenge, which I pray this local Church will earnestly hear and engage:
O God, who anointed your Only Begotten Son with the Holy Spirit and made him Christ and Lord, graciously grant that, being made sharers in his consecration, we may bear witness to your Redemption in the world.
While this world is our present home, the Scriptures remind us that we are only pilgrims on this earth. (Psalm 119) The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us: “For here we have no lasting city; we are seeking one which is to come.” And the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council teach us:
‘our goal is the kingdom of God, begun on earth by God himself and destined to grow until it is also brought about to perfection by him at the end of time, when Christ, our life, will appear,” (LG 9)
During this time of the “great resignation” or the “great exodus” when so many people are quitting their jobs and stepping back from needed volunteer roles, we who identify ourselves in Christ are called to step up!
In these days, Christ is calling each of us who share his life in Baptism to allow him to live fully in us! Each of us who have received an anointing of Christ’s Holy Spirit are called to the same generosity of life as Christ Jesus! At a time when so many people are in need, let us recognize Christ in others, seek him and serve him precisely in our neighbor.
Do we truly identify our life with Christ? Do we have a conscious knowledge as St. Paul that our life is not our own? Or that “I have been taken possession of by Christ?” (Philippians 3) Every one of us who has been anointed by Christ – every one of us who have been baptized also shares a calling from Christ to share in his mission. Let us not remain on the sidelines, nor be content with just coming to Church and receiving the sacraments as if they were simply something else for consumption. NO! Let us be transformed; let us be conformed more and more into Christ and allow him to send us in his name to be his presence in the world, and to serve him in others.
In his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis states this challenge clearly:
24. The Church which “goes forth” is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice. An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. Such a community has an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of its own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy. Let us try a little harder to take the first step and to become involved. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. The Lord gets involved and he involves his own, as he kneels to wash their feet. He tells his disciples: “You will be blessed if you do this” (Jn 13:17). An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others.
Tonight we celebrate the gift of ordained priesthood. Very shortly, your priests will renew the promises they made on their ordination day. Take a good look at your priests tonight, as we give thanks and pray for them. Our priests are getting fewer in number, older, and the faces are becoming more diverse because of those coming from other countries to serve us.
Let me ask you something: When was the last time someone from your parish was ordained a priest? When if ever has a member of your family been ordained a priest? Priests do not grow on trees, they are raised in families just like yours. They receive their faith through parishes just like yours.
Please allow me to continue with a line of questioning: Who was the last person from your parish who chose a vocation of service in the Church as a youth minister? A teacher in a Catholic school? A woman religious? Or a full time lay ecclesial minister in the Church? How many people do you know who work for our Catholic Community Services or Catholic Housing Services to provide services to the less fortunate and poor?
In a culture that is so focused on self, we are called to so much more. Every Christian vocation is at its heart a life of generous service of others – because this is what it means to share the life of God, the life of the Risen Jesus, the anointing of the Holy Spirit! The Church and society need us to live our Catholic identity as true disciples of Christ Jesus and servants of his Gospel.
Pope Francis goes on to say in the Joy of the Gospel:
An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be. It is familiar with patient expectation and apostolic endurance.
My friends, the anointing that we receive from Christ is a call to mission. It is an anointing for the service of his mission. Our anointing in Christ is a call to be humble, selfless disciples who witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Does the way we live speak of Christ to the world?
Christ is calling! Christ is anointing with his Holy Spirit! Let us rejoice and be glad; let us rise and run to answer his call. Let us make a generous gift of our lives as those who know we are not born for this world for anything more nor anything less than the service of Christ.