Thursday of Holy Week, 2023
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,” the prophet Isaiah tells us in the first reading for today’s Chrism Mass. “Because the LORD has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly.”
In the gospel, Jesus reads the words of these prophet, then declares, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” What a remarkable declaration to make in the synagogue! Some of the people were aghast — how could this lowly son of a carpenter be declaring himself the chosen one of God; God’s very Son!? Indeed, they angrily drove him from town afterwards.
His townsfolk could only see the contradiction, not the mystery. Indeed, Jesus is God, but he also was the son of a lowly carpenter — fully human. Jesus, then, not only reveals Himself as God, but also “fully reveals man to himself”. He shows us through His example the way to holiness. He calls us to be perfect, just as the Father is perfect. Jesus even taught us to pray to Our Father, in the same manner as He himself prayed.
The LORD has anointed us; He has sent us to bring glad tidings to the lowly.
At Baptism we literally are anointed; first, with the oil of catechumens, to give us strength for the journey, and then with chrism, by which we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. We are anointed, Apostlicam Actuositatum reminds us, as “sharers in the role of Christ as priest, prophet, and king.” We are called to truly imitate Christ.
So let us, in this coming season of Easter, and in every part of our lives, bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, and to comfort all who mourn.
For we all are God’s children, beloved, blessed, and sent!
Timothy P. Williams is a weak Samaritan, North Dakota State football fan, and National Director of Formation for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the United States.