230 views | Justine John Dyikuk | April 1, 2021
The Solemn Liturgy of Chrism Mass is a two in one event. It commemorates the day in which the Lord instituted the sacrifice of Holy Mass and Holy Orders. The words: “Do this in memory of me” (Cf. Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:18-20 & 1st Corinthians 11:23-25) testify to the ancient caravan. By this command, Jesus ipso facto consecrated them priests of the New and Everlasting Covenant established by Christ.
Since Bishops enjoy the fullness of the priesthood (Diaconate, Priesthood and Bishopric) as the direct successors of the Apostles, they ordain priests as co-workers “to consecrate the Christian people and offer sacrifices to God.” This makes priests ministers of the Word and Sacraments.
On a day like this, we recall the gracious words of Jesus: “Today, these words are fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Relaying on divine election and consecration, in our age and time, priests heroically witness to a world of sin and death. As Alter Christus (Another Christ), they go from men to God and God to men to fulfill God’s mandate.
This where we must celebrate these great men in the line of Melchizedek who give their life and all to the service of God and humanity. The priest is unlike other human beings. His finger touches every aspect of our lives. From the cradle to the grave, he intercedes on our behalf.
During baptism, he is there to wash us from original sin, make us children of God and members of the Church. With a warm welcome, he invites us into the people of God: “A royal priesthood, a holy nation and a people set apart to sing the praises of God” (1 Peter 2:9). Through his mediatory services, we are made Priests, Kings and Prophets.
As if that is not enough, the priest administers First Holy Communion to us as food for the journey. By preparing the faithful for the eschatological banquet, the priest reenacts the Calvary event. Although distant in time and space, he takes us to Golgota or better still, the place of the skull where blood and water flowed from his side.
During the Sacrament of Confirmation, Priests prepare determined pilgrims who are soldiers of Christ. They incubate those who without fear or favour protect the Church with their lives through dogged witnessing. Although reserved for Bishops, they confer this Sacrament on the aged or those they are so designated to.
Since to “Err is human and forgive is divine,” priests stand in the breach for the people. Because sin separates the sinner from God and the Church, based on the scripture “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven…” (John 20:23), the priest reconciles the penitent with God and the Church. Through the priest, our canvas of sin is repainted with grace, dignity and salvation.
Priests also have their signature on the infirmed. Like their Master who cared for the sick, they carry out pastoral care even at the risk of their lives. With Anointing of the Sick, the priest accompanies the sick towards healing of mind and body. Accordingly, when their time is up, through the sacrifices of these clerics, the ailing are prepared for a delightful flight to the great beyond.
With the two Sacraments of Christian Vocation (Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders), in the first instance, priests assist couples to exchange marital vows, raise godly kids and form the Domestic Church. This in turn decorates the Church with children who take to the priestly and religious life.
In the second instance, the Sacrament of Holy Orders comes begging. Inaugurated on a day like this, at the Mass of Holy Chrism, they renew their priestly vows to be recommitted. While Holy Thursday recalls their anniversary, it also reconnects the Christian faithful to the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
When this earthly dwelling folds up, they escort us to the yonder. With a befitting funeral, they parcel us to our heavenly father who awaits our return with open arms as exemplified in the story of the Prodigal Son (Cf. Luke 15:11–32). They assure that God’s love is prodigal, urging the hopeless sinner home.
Bathed in the Word and Prayer, the priest wrestles with the devil on our behalf. He dares the evil one to prepare the people for the life of the blessed. By turning his back on the world, for our sake, he takes the vow of the Evangelical Counsel – Obedience, Poverty and Celibacy (Chastity). Forsaking the joys of marriage and the family, priests minister in far flown nations.
Join me in celebrating our priests. Be they colleagues, brothers, uncles or friends, they deserve accolades. With 21-gun salute, let us fire the cannons and artilleries in honor of these men who defy time and circumstances to work for God. Call them men of God, Prelates or Fathers, they merit adulation for depopulating hell.
Big up, our revered Reverend Fathers. May this anniversary renew our anointing. May we never fall prey to the ancient enemy in a world of wild pleasures, fake promises and alluring yet mundane wealth. In fighting temptations daily, we shall win big. May we at last, appear clean before the just judge. Better still, may we join the angelic host in judging the 12 tribes of Israel (Cf. Matthew 19:28). Happy Anniversary!!
Fr. Dyikuk is a Lecturer of Mass Communication, University of Jos, Editor – Caritas Newspaper and Convener, Media Team Network Initiative (MTNI), Nigeria.