6 April, Thursday — Maundy Thursday

Chrism Mass

Priests, prophets and kings

Is 61:1-3,6,8-9
Rev 1:5-8
Lk 4:16-21

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me” 

I’ve been to Chrism Mass only once. If you have not, I’d strongly encourage you to try to take time off to attend this annual mass ‘event’. You’ll see why this mass is truly special. Traditionally celebrated on Holy or Maundy Thursday, you will be able to witness the gathering of all the priests in Singapore and the blessing of the holy oils to be used in baptism, in confirmation and holy orders, and in anointing of the sick. Many Catholics may not think much of the oil, but think of its significance when Jesus visited his friends in Bethany, Mary chose to anoint him with precious oil, as if preparing him for his burial.

As we’ve been baptised with the Holy Spirit, we’ve all been given the gift of the spirit. Then what do we do with this gift? “He loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood, and made us a line of kings, priests to serve his God and Father” (Revelations 1:5-8). I remember how surprised I was when I learnt that I’m not only a child of God, as a baptised Catholic, I’m also a priest, prophet and king! As priests, we are to intercede and pray for others, leading others in praise and worship. As prophets, we are to proclaim and speak the truth in love and service (not to hurt or kill) – to give testimony, not judgement. Be a witness to God. As king, we work to bring Christian justice and virtue to the world, try to reform and rebuild the world by exercising our roles in society, as a citizen, as a leader, in the marketplace, in businesses, etc. What a tall order! But it’s not impossible.

As we approach Easter, have we been exercising the gifts given to us? Each of us should have our own special charism or spiritual graces of the Holy Spirit which are meant to directly, or indirectly, benefit the church. For me, I believe that my charism is writing. So, sharing my scriptural reflections in Facebook has been something I’ve been doing on the side for the past few years and it’s my way of evangelising, of spreading the good news. What better way to show the truth than through my own testimonial of faith right? I do feel quite naked sometimes, revealing all my vulnerabilities, but I know that God has been using me in ways I’ll never be able to imagine, and so he must also be protecting me. Thank God nobody has been mean to me or said anything hurtful or to the contrary. I try my best to live and be as authentic a Christian as possible. If not, how can I walk the talk and inspire others to get to know Jesus? With the spirit in me, I hope that I can be the light and salt of the earth to those around me.  

(Today’s OXYGEN by Cynthia Chew)

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, you have entrusted us with the roles of priest, prophet and king. May the spirit in us take courage, have the strength and wisdom to go out and share the truth that is your love and goodness.      

Thanksgiving: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for enabling us to take the leap of faith, to do the things we never thought possible, and to be who God intended for us.  

Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Participation not perfection

 Ex 12:1-8;11-14
1 Cor 11:23-26
Jn 13:1-15

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet

Over the Christmas season a few years’ ago, I hosted my husband’s family at our house for a week. Because I ran myself to the ground the year before trying to take care of every small detail, my husband suggested that this time, I learn to be more ‘collaborative’, to allow others to ‘share in the joy of making Christmas a success’ (his words, not mine!). I argued that it was a pointless exercise, that no one would be able to do things as efficiently as I would, that they would mess it up and I would have to spend even more time fixing it. He argued that while it might be the case, everyone would feel like they had contributed, even if the end result wasn’t perfect. He argued that it was less important for things to be perfect; it was a nobler ideal that people felt they had participated, that they had played a part in making Christmas a success.

So we tried it his way. I let his family ‘collaborate’ even as I ‘helicopter-hovered’ as discreetly as I could. And I have to say…my husband was right!! The feeling of love, goodwill, joy and family warmth that emanated over the week was worth the less than perfect end result. Everyone had a great time, despite all my hovering!

How is this relevant to the gospel today? As much as we refuse to admit it, most of us are control freaks. We think that we’re the bee’s knees, that no one can do a better job of something than us. We shun help, disdain it, decline it condescendingly or worse, feel offended by it – “Why, do YOU think that I can’t figure it out for myself? Are YOU trying to tell ME how to do things?” A lot of this is rooted in self-pride – pride in our abilities, pride in our efficiency, pride in our perceived martyrdom. It’s a form of affirmation, this delusion that no one can do it better than we can. But in our hastiness to seize the spotlight for ourselves, we rob others of the chance to serve. Like Peter, we proclaim, “You will never wash my feet”. You will never serve me! I won’t allow it! But really, who are we to decide who gets to serve? Who are we to decide what is good enough? Don’t we also deny ourselves the chance to be loved, to be taken care of, when we are disdainful of a helping hand? Might joy and love not be multiplied if we all collaborated?

As we attend this evening’s mass and look upon the symbolism of the washing of feet, let us call to mind all the times we turned down a helping hand because we didn’t think someone was good enough, and ask the Lord’s forgiveness for our pride, our selfish vanity and foolishness. It is not the end result that matters, what’s more important is how we all got there together. Perfection is not nearly as noble an ideal as participation.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for the patience, the humility and the awareness to involve others in our lives and in the work of God.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the times we have been helped, for all the times we have stood on the shoulders of others, and for all the opportunities that God has given us to be that shoulder for someone to stand on.


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