This blog follows the daily readings of the Catholic Church. These readings are for the so-called Chrism Mass, where those “anointed” as priests re-affirm their vows on Holy Thursday. For reformed denominations, who believe in the priesthood of all believers, the “anointing” is of the whole people of God.
Reading 1, Isaiah 61:1-3a, 6a, 8b-9
1 The spirit of Lord is on me for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the news to the afflicted, to soothe the broken-hearted,
2 to proclaim liberty to captives, release to those in prison, to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord and a day of vengeance for our God, to comfort all who mourn
3 (to give to Zion’s mourners), to give them for ashes a garland, for mourning-dress, the oil of gladness, for despondency, festal attire; and they will be called ‘terebinths of saving justice’, planted by the Lord to glorify him.
6 but you will be called ‘priests of the Lord’ and be addressed as ‘ministers of our God’. You will feed on the wealth of nations, you will supplant them in their glory.
8 For I am the Lord: I love fair judgement, I hate robbery and wrong-doing, and I shall reward them faithfully and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their race will be famous throughout the nations and their offspring throughout the peoples. All who see them will admit that they are a race whom the Lord has blessed
Reading 2, Revelation 1:5-8
5 Grace to you and peace from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the First-born from the dead, the highest of earthly kings. He loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood,
6 and made us a Kingdom of Priests to serve his God and Father; to him, then, be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
7 Look, he is coming on the clouds; everyone will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the races of the earth will mourn over him. Indeed this shall be so. Amen.
8 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.
In John’s Gospel, at the last supper, Jesus consecrates himself to his coming sacrifice, in order that his disciples may also be consecrated. Through the self-offering of Jesus, disciples are moved, however imperfectly to offer their own lives in service. This service is priestly in that it involves honouring God in worship and in pastoral care. All believers are called to offer honest worship to God, in company with each other; and to care for God’s sheep, i.e. for their neighbours, especially the afflicted, the broken-hearted, the captives and the oppressed, as set out in Isaiah 61, the passage that Jesus read at the Nazareth synagogue, at the start of his own ministry.
The book of The Revelation presents the risen Jesus as the one who has completed his own priestly ministry, by purifying his disciples from their sins, through his own sacrifice, so that they may in turn become a priestly people.
United with the God of all times, Jesus will come back to confront those who have caused his pain. Who are they? “Whatever you have done to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you have done to me” (Mathew 25).
The anointed priests who have abused the least of God’s children should be knelt in penitence today along with all who protected them and silenced their victims. But not only them. All ordained ministers who have neglected those they were anointed to care for, the afflicted, the captive, the oppressed, because we were too busy serving the comfy oppressors, should be on our knees also, along with the whole church, asking forgiveness for our failures in ministry.
As I come tonight to the holy table, I should know why the disciples, hearing that someone was to betray their Lord, asked, “Is it me?”