Homily for Chrism Mass on May 13, 2020
My brothers in the priesthood of Christ:
Do you still remember those days when priestly work was so predictable and almost monotonous? Do you still remember those days when we were so sure of Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday morning? Do you still remember those days when big gatherings in church were presumed and parking for mini buses and cars was part of our preparations for church events? Do you still remember those days when it was difficult to keep our churches clean due to the constant flow of people coming in and out? Do you still remember the noise of crying babies at our Sunday baptisms and the chatter of children waiting for First Communion? Do you still remember the long lines of children and youth waiting for confession before their confirmation? Do you still remember couples waiting to be interviewed before their wedding? Do you still remember the many coffins for multiple funeral Masses and how difficult it was to arrange them before Mass? Do you still remember our collectors and ushers bringing the collection baskets after Mass and the noise of coins being put into the bags for counting?
By the rivers of Babylon there we sat weeping when we remembered Zion. But how could we sing a song of the LORD in a foreign land? (Ps 137:1,4). We became exiles in our own churches and rectories, locked in and quarantined. How ironic to be exiled in our modern Babylon!
I am sure you do. It was only a two months ago when life was this way. How times have changed so abruptly and priestly life and ministry must now adjust and take a new form. When we were complaining of getting bored with monotonous work with back pain and neck ache, high blood sugar or rising blood pressure due to our hectic pastoral schedules, God gave us an invisible virus and gave us the long rest we thought we needed. Now we can look back with more discerning eyes and thank God for not making it worse than the past two months. It was bound to happen to make us a better nation, a better people of God, better priests, better Church. As it were the Lord rebuked us during our pandemic lock in, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe…!” Did you not ask for a vacation?
COVID is Grace
With faith in and love for God, we can still exclaim that everything is grace; even Covid19 is grace. It has brought out the better part of us. It has given us new eyes and ears, new pastoral hearts and new priestly spirits, newer methods and newer approaches to preach the Gospel entrusted to us. Now we know that cleanliness is next to godliness. Now we know that stewardship is not control.
The Holy See has rightly pointed out that the Chrism Mass with the accompanying renewal of priestly promises is not part of the Easter triduum. Unlike Easter which is not transferable, Chrism Mass may be celebrated on a later date. From the liturgical perspective indeed, the blessing of the oil of the sick, the consecration of chrism and our renewal of priestly promises are not part of Holy Week.
They are part of everyday. They belong to everybody in every time everywhere. We have chosen to celebrate Chrism Mass today May 13 under the gaze of Our Lady of Fatima who appeared to three ordinary shepherd children. We may not be as pure and beautiful as Our Lady but we can certainly be like the children of Fatima.
None of us are children by age but all of us are children by faith. The three children took care of sheep. We take care for souls and feed them Christ. The three children were from poor ordinary families, so are we; none of us are from royal families! The three children brought a message of conversion for the world; that is our priestly message too. The children echoed the message from our Lady: Penance! Penance! Penance! Penance must be message of every preaching; penance must be our life, for our sins and the sins of the world. Saint Augustine said the mark of a good homily is when people leave the church striking their breasts in repentance; not holding their stomachs laughing.
Today we will consecrate holy Chrism to be used for baptismal anointing. We use the same fragrant oil for confirmation and ordination. By the anointing with chrism we received consecration as priests and bishops. Our ordination is a gift from the Lord so that God’s priestly people by baptism may become truly “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1Pt 2:9).
What a beautiful occasion that on the day we consecrate holy chrism, we also consecrate the Church to the sinless Mother of God. Our consecration to Mary helps us to live our consecration to Jesus. The Lord’s glory is not diminished when we entrust ourselves to His Mother. In praising the Mother, we adore the Son. In entrusting ourselves to the Mother, our consecration to the Son deepens.
On this day honoring our Lady who wanted to spare the world from the devastation of wars through prayer and penance, we will also bless the oil for the sick. May the sick be healed when they receive this oil! May the world be healed through the anointing of prayer and penance! May all godlessness be crushed under the feet of the Immaculate! May blasphemy and sacrilege, vulgarity and indecency be healed by the anointing of penance and prayer! May all the sick from Covid receive wellness and new life!
We do not know what lies ahead. We do not know how Church life will be in the coming months and years. All we know is that people need God. We need the Lord. In this crisis, we need the lifeline of a caring community. The Church MUST be that lifeline NOW. We priests must be JESUS for them. The healing of the world will flow from the Lord through the gentle hands of the Immaculate Mother. I believe.We are servant sons of the handmaid of the Lord.
Mahal na Birhen ng Fatima. Hirap na hirap na po kami pero hindi pa rin kasing hirap ng pinagdaanan ng inyong Anak. Inip na inip na po kami pero hindi pa rin kasing tagal ng inyong paghihintay sa aming pagbabago. Malungkot, pagod at litong-lito na po kami pero hindi pa rin pantay sa pangungulila ni Jesus sa Gethsemane at Kalbaryo. Alam na namin ang maging ulila pero alam din namin na kayo po ay kasama naming at hindi ninyo kami iiwanan. Walang paring ulila sapagkat laging may Ina ang pari..kayo po Mahal na Birhen.
We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.
Mahal na Birhen ng Fatima, kami pong mga pari at ang buong bayan ng Diyos sa Lingayen Dagupan ay buong buong para sa inyo. Kami po ay sa inyo. Wala na pong iba. Totus tuus Maria.