My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
We gather tonight at this altar in communion as the one family of God, the one Church of Jesus Christ — bishops and priests, deacons and seminarians, religious and consecrated, lay men and lay women.
This is the beautiful reality of the Catholic Church — not a political organization or a corporation, but the mystery of the living God.
As the prophet Isaiah tells us in tonight’s first reading, we are “a race the Lord has blessed.”
God has made us his chosen people, anointing us with the oil of gladness, his Holy Spirit, and sending us into the world to proclaim his love — to be his witnesses, his priests.
As prophet Isaiah says:
You yourselves shall be named priests of the Lord,
ministers of our God shall you be called.
My brothers and sisters, the Church is not our invention, but God’s initiative, part of his plan for history. The Church is the “new thing” that God is doing right now in Jesus Christ.
Everything in our lives depends, as we know, on our relationship with Jesus Christ. The Book of Revelation tonight tells us:
Jesus Christ … is the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead …
who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his Blood,
who has made us into a Kingdom, priests for his God and Father.
The holy oils we are blessing tonight in this Mass are signs of our identity in Jesus. As we know, the word “Christ” means “Anointed One.”
And so, the oil of catechumens we bless tonight is a sign of the Spirit of love that is poured into our hearts in baptism, the Spirit who makes us children of God and Christians — “anointed ones” who share in Christ’s own anointing.
The chrism oil that we bless tonight will be used in confirmation and ordination. It is the oil of service, a sign that each of us now shares in Christ’s own priesthood, that he makes us his co-workers in transforming this world into his Kingdom.
And my dear brother priests, we have such a beautiful vocation! We do not choose Jesus, he chooses us to be his own, to be dedicated to him alone.2
Jesus says in today’s Gospel:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me.
My brothers, the Lord’s has given his Spirit to each of us. He has anointed us now to share personally in his mission.
When we were ordained, each of us said “yes” to his invitation. “Yes” to be his instruments. “Yes” to let him to speak with our voice, to heal and bless with our hands.
This is the beautiful mystery — Jesus chooses to carry out his priesthood through you and through me.
As we know, being a priest is not about power or privilege, it is not about being a religious professional. It is about service and sacrifice, handing your life over to God and becoming “another Christ.”
My brothers, you alone are empowered to stand in persona Christi — In the person of Christ — the mediating between heaven and earth, uniting the world to the saving mystery of Christ.
By your ordination, you speak with his authority and his power. It is not you, but Jesus who says, “I absolve you of your sins.” It is he who says, “This is my Body.”
Every day, you hold a mystery in your hands, you hold the wonder of God’s love — a love so strong that not even death can defeat it.
Again, our priestly dignity lies in our personal humility, in the hidden heroism of our ordinary every day ministry — not calling attention to ourselves but just serving our people in love; teaching and healing, bringing words of forgiveness and hope.
There is, my brothers, no greater love than a life shared and given for others. That is how Jesus lived. He wanted nothing for himself — except to give everything to us. And he loves us until the end.
This is this the beautiful love that we are called to proclaim as his priests. And this is the love that we are called to live in our priesthood.
As we all know, this has been a hard year for the Church. And we know that in every period of history, the reform and renewal of the Church always begins with the reform and renewal of the clergy. Reform must begin with bishops, priests, deacons and with the formation of seminarians.
But I really believe that, in this moment in the Church, renewal means all of us — we all — need to rediscover our priestly identity and mission.
This is the hour of the laity. That means our Lord is calling every one of us in this Cathedral tonight to renew our “common priesthood” and our “priestly soul.” Each one of us.
Tonight, he is calling us to renew and deepen our own “anointing,” to truly become Christians — following Jesus, proclaiming the Gospel, striving to be transformed in his image.
Jesus still wants to save the world through his priestly people, his Church. And that means you and me, each one of us. Our Lord knows our faults and failures, yet still he calls each one of us to carry out his saving work in the world.
Our Lord will not leave his Church, so let us never leave him!
Let us keep going, always forward on our journey! Let us try every day to obey and love Jesus more and more and to serve him and to seek his will for our lives.
It is a great time in the life of the Church. As challenging as it is, it is a moment for all of us to renew our commitment to God and to his people. That’s why this evening and this beautiful celebration, it’s so important for all of us — bishops and priests, deacons, seminarians, religious and lay people — to renew our commitment to be another Christ, Christ himself.
And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary to intercede for us — that we might all renew our desire for holiness and to be God’s priestly people.
1. Readings: Isa. 61:1-3a, 6a, 8b-9; Ps. 89:21-22, 25, 27; Rev. 1:5-8; Luke 4:16-21.
2. John 15:16.