Chrism Mass Homily of Archbishop Michael Neary

02 Apr 2015

Celebration of Vocation

In our celebration we renew our promises and give expression to our dependence on, our support for each other and our need for God’s help as we endeavour to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ in our respective vocations as married, single, religious or priests.

Situating The Ministry of Jesus

The first concrete instance of Jesus’ Galilean teaching is presented in today’s gospel as an account of his visit in Nazareth, his home-town. It has a definite programmatic character. Luke deliberately places this story at the beginning of the public ministry to encapsulate the entire ministry of Jesus and the reaction to it.

Participation in the Ministry of Jesus

The ministry of Jesus is something in which we all participate in various ways – will have much to do with freeing people from things which hold them captive and particularly from the enslaving power of sin in its various manifestations. His ministry therefore will involve liberation which Jesus expresses in terms of “the acceptable year of the Lord”, a time when people will be welcomed and accepted, when their dignity will be recognised. This will involve a hand being held out to the afflicted, the trapped and the bound. This will also determine our ministry as men and women who continue his work.

Demands and challenges of life today

The ever-increasing demands of work today mean that people have less time to spend on relationships, children, parents, friends, co-workers in voluntary groups. At times, one suspects that people are created to serve markets whereas markets were made to serve the people. In our Christian understanding of God we are invited to become his partners in the on-going work of creation and re-creation. The God who gave us the gift of freedom asks us to use it to honour and enhance the freedom of others.

The Challenge of Change – Transitory Lives

Living as we do in a time of rapid cultural change with its non-stop transformation can be deeply unsettling. We witness the breakdown of the institutions of social life. In the past people were helped to cope with change because they had what someone called “personal stability zones”. There were aspects of life which did not change. People had a sense of economic, personal and geographical continuity. Marriage is rapidly being eroded by serial relationships, co-habitation, divorce and a redefinition of marriage. We face the maximum of uncertainty with the minimum of resources to protect us against insecurity. Change has become systemic. We no longer feel a sense of control over our lives. Great forces that surround us – financial markets, currency movements, technological change, the international arena, are becoming ever more volatile, complex and unpredictable.

The Gift that faith has to offer

The consumerisation of society can be very subtle and seductive but is very damaging. As long as there is hunger, poverty and treatable disease in our world, there is work for us to do. As long as there is un-employment and homelessness, depression and despair, we are being challenged. We do not seek to impose our religious conviction on society, but surely we must seek to bring the insights of our faith to the public conversations about the principles for which we stand and the values we share.

Search for Direction

In uncharted territory we need a compass. Can our faith provide such? In an age of uncertainty religious faith reminds us that we are not alone, nor are we bereft of guidance from the past.

Ministry as Priest in contemporary situarion

This will determine the way in which we minister. As priests we are “sent”. We are sent by Jesus Christ and sent to proclaim Jesus. There will always be the human temptation to preach and present ourselves rather than Christ. We can make all kinds of excuses, resort to self-pity, bemoan the culture and the climate in which we minister, but if we are not preaching Jesus Christ then we betray not just the Christ who called us and sent us but also the people to whom we are sent. Today as priests we work with, learn from, are influenced by God’s people. We have responsibility for providing pastoral care in a compassionate warm and human fashion. We represent Christ but we also represent a Church which has a human and sinful dimension.

The Mystery of the Cross – Holy Week

During this Holy Week in which we focus on the great paschal mystery at the heart of our faith – we take courage and strength and direction from the Cross of Jesus Christ. The great Carthusian motto captures it in a very succinct way “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis” – The Cross is steady while the world is turning. May the fruit of the tree of the passion of Christ fall on all of us during this Holy Week and always.

Conclusion – Holy Week Greetings

In conclusion I thank you all for the team spirit which characterises your work as baptised faithful, religious and priests in building up the body of Christ. To all involved in the various ministries and committees whether parochial or diocesan I thank you for the generosity of your service. And I join with you all in expressing our gratitude and appreciation to our priests as they endeavour to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and His message and supportive of you in living out your baptismal promises.

 Archbishop Michael Neary is Archbishop of Tuam

The Chrism Mass was celebrated on 1 April 2015.