The Church of the Diocese of Cheyenne gathered at St. Patrick in Casper for our Chrism Mass this evening. Despite winter weather across the southern part of the state, I’m told that attendance tonight was the largest gathered for a Chrism Mass in the history of the Diocese. Praise God!
I am very grateful to all who traveled to make our celebration a joyful expression of faith, and a true experience of being anointed by Christ!
Here is the homily from tonight’s Mass:
Chrism Mass Homily: Missionary at heart
God the Father Anointed Christ, by the Holy Spirit. (Opening Prayer)
Jesus, taking the passage from Isaiah explains the mission of this anointing:
- Bring glad tidings to the poor
- Sent to proclaim liberty to the captives
- Recovery of sight to the blind
- Let the oppressed go free
- Proclaim a year acceptable to the LORD
This is the mission of Jesus. Recall the Gospel, and all that Jesus did, and you will see how he accomplished each of these goals. Jesus founded this Church, to continue this one and the same mission, through his eternal priesthood. The heart of the Church is missionary! Recognize your own calling, how Christ has claimed you as his own, has taken possession of you by the power of his love, and see how he has fulfilled his mission in you and for you.
Being made sharers in his consecration: (Opening Prayer)
WE call this a CHRISM MASS: The oils that we consecrate tonight are used to make others sharers in the Consecration of Jesus. Jesus’ heart was and continues to be the heart of the Father. As Jesus claimed the anointing of Isaiah to be fulfilled in him, we claim in the person of Jesus this anointing and consecration to be ours. Jesus shares his anointing with us, as he shared his life with us. As Jesus loved the Father and extends that love to us, as we are consecrated by Christ, our hearts are conformed to his, that we might love what God loves and hate what God hates.
- Recall our baptism/ our Confirmation / our Ordination
Each day, I try to spend time in prayer with our LORD before the Blessed Sacrament. This is the first duty of every priest; to be close to Christ. Yesterday, I spent some time kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, and immediately, the LORD desired that I recall his Providence and Goodness to me through the priesthood. I could in that moment, see Christ anointing me; Christ, laying hands upon me; Christ, extending to me the paten and chalice with which to feed his people; extending to me the Book of the Gospels, by which we feed upon his Word. I was mindful of the tremendous grace and blessing it is to be a priest, and now, to live the fullness of the priesthood as a successor to the apostles. I could see his love, the love he has for all his people, whom he has entrusted to my / our care.
My brother priests, draw close to Christ. Allow him always to renew his love for you and his love within you. This is the love with which through the oils we consecrate tonight, we consecrate and anoint his people. The love of Christ has been poured into our hearts, that we may invest this love through our ministry into the hearts of his people. This is the manner in which we follow Christ, extend the mission of the Church, and as Christ,
- Bring glad tidings to the poor;
- Are sent to proclaim liberty to the captives
- Restore sight to the blind
- Let the oppressed go free
- Proclaim a year acceptable to the LORD
When Archbishop Sambi called me to tell me I had been named a bishop, he spoke of Jesus calling his first disciples. He recalled the time they spent in Galilee, getting to know Jesus, spending time with him, listening to him teach, witnessing his many healings and his compassion for the crowds that followed him. The Archbishop reminded me: “When you were ordained, you promised to follow Jesus. Now, Jesus is calling you to follow him as Bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming.”
The life of every bishop, every priest, and everyone who follows Jesus is a call to leave behind one’s self. The anointing that we receive from Jesus is what allows us to do that. The anointing of Jesus even allows us to find our joy in such selfless service of others. This is why the heart of the Church is mission. This is why the heart of the disciple must always be free to go where Jesus sends each of us, because we are sent in his name, for the mission that is his, and is now ours.
This is precisely why the second duty of every priest, after drawing close to Christ, is to be close to his people. This year of mercy helps us understand the nature of this closeness. The very word mercy, Misericordia, speaks of the heart, the affairs of the heart. Because our nearness to Christ conforms us to Christ, it allows the heart and mind of Christ to be formed in us. Therefore, we desire to be with the people Christ has entrusted to our care, that we might enter into the fabric of their lives, discovering their joys and sorrows, that we might share their joy, and bring the heart of Jesus to alleviate if not burn away the sorrow that is theirs. Christ has anointed us, that we may anoint his people with his compassion and love.
We may bear witness to your Redemption in the world: (Opening Prayer)
At its heart, this mission of the disciple is to bear witness to Jesus Christ, and the redemption he has won for us. As mentioned earlier, part of the discipleship of all who follow Christ is to leave self behind, and in the process, to discover an even more meaningful life. Bu, as we do this, we sometimes give too much attention to the self-dying process, rather than keeping the focus on Christ and those he has sent us to serve. This self-focus leads to resentment, or at least confusion, and causes us to pull back from this Flame of Love.
This Fire of Christ is the same as the Fire that spoke to Moses from the burning bush. It gave light and purpose to Moses, without consuming the bush. We must enter into this Flame of Love to first receive and experience the warmth and anointing of Christ. Then and only then are we capable of bringing the warmth and tenderness of God to a world searching for what they know not.
At its heart, the mission of the disciple is to bear witness to Jesus Christ, and the redemption he has won for us. As we walk with Jesus, in our ministry, and in our earthly pilgrimage, we recognize one other who also accompanies us – Mary, the first disciple of Jesus. Let us continue our pilgrimage, walking with each other, with our Lord and our Lady, anointed, carrying on our mission, serving God’s people, giving witness to Jesus Christ.
Somewhere in Scripture, it says: “now will the prince of this world be cast out.” People often wonder why there is still evil in the world if Christ indeed conquered Satan. The Victory is won, but the pilgrimage continues for each of us, the challenge remains for each of us to choose Christ, to receive his anointing, to bring him by faith into our lives that he may have greater reign in the world.
Tonight, we renew again our faith in Christ, that he is:
“The firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his Blood, who has made us into a Kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever.