Let us die with Christ - Chrism Mass 2019

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Let us die with Christ - Chrism Mass 2019

Brothers, we are about to commemorate the Paschal mystery once again.

On Holy Thursday we will recall the events of the Last Supper, conscious particularly of the Lord’s intention that He would leave us a means to participate in his saving mystery. Each time we celebrate Mass we live the Paschal mystery once again, uniting ourselves with it. We offer the Mass that the People of God may be drawn into the mystery of their redemption. We declare, as St Augustine said, “Through us he died, through him we live.”

And bread and wine become the Body and Blood of the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our priestly action as we extend our hands of the physical species transforms them in the living presence of the Lord. We, as priests, then minister the Body of Christ and the blood of Christ to our brethren.

Thus we share in a holy communion with the risen Lord.
What privilege is ours as we celebrate Mass.

On Holy Thursday we commemorate the moment when Jesus transformed the Jewish ceremony of the Passover meal into what we now celebrate as the Mass. We are aware that His actions at that Last Supper was his gift to us, providing for his disciples as they became the Church.

The procession at the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper unites us with the pilgrimage of Jesus with his disciples from the Upper Room across the Kedron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemane. The Church invites her children to conclude the ceremony with time in quiet contemplation, conscious of the anguish in the heart of Jesus as he embraces his Father’s will, knowing that he will accept the cup of suffering.

On Friday we will invite the faithful to accompany the Lord on the Via Dolorosa, as we participate in the Stations of the Cross. Then we will solemnly commemorate the death of the Lord on Calvary. We read the Passion account from St John, conscious that he, alone among the apostles, stood at the foot of the cross alongside the faithful women. He was witness to Jesus’ final actions and words. In an act of humble gratitude we venerate the cross on Good Friday.

Thus, as we have done over many years, we follow Christ from the Upper Room to Calvary. In the liturgical actions we are drawn into the final earthly moments of our Lord. As we recall the events, our faith quickens within us. This is not just an historical recall. This is not just retelling a story. This annual commemoration of the Lord’s passion and death is a participation through liturgical action, prayer and faith in the way in which God has acted to redeem humanity.

What is unfolded before us during these coming days is the very heart of the Christian mystery.

We know that Christ’s acceptance of his fate was in the end a supreme act of love. St John expressed it in well-known words, “God so loved the world that he sent his only Son…” Jesus himself would comment that a man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. As we contemplate the passion and death of Christ, we behold a love which defies our understanding. In our hearts we ponder the fact that God, out of love for humanity in its sin and misery, would do this for us.

As he was dying the Lord cried out from the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” In the midst of intense suffering, the heart of Jesus was filled with mercy. Rising from the midst of pain and suffering, Jesus knew that he was to be the sacrifice to redeem humanity. This was an act of mercy so that sinful humanity could be reconciled with God. Jesus as Son of God was the Lamb of God, and his immolation was the perfect sacrifice.

We, as priests, are privileged to not only lead the people in these most sacred celebrations, but we, as priests, also are called to be united in a unique way with our Master. As well as being the victim, Christ’s actions were also priestly actions. He is both priest and victim. We as priests are caught up in this same reality. We are both priests and victims.

At this present time we, as priests, are experiencing being drawn into the sufferings of Christ. Our standing within the society has been significantly diminished by revelations of sexual abuse by the clergy. The sins of our brethren fall on us. We are deeply aware that innocent lives have been irreparably harmed by this sexual abuse. The failures of Church leadership to effectively address it impact on our vocation as priests in the Church.

As we are about to enter the Sacred Triduum this year, let us join with Christ and embrace the commemoration of his passion and death as a personal spiritual journey. The sufferings of the Lord were the path for the salvation of humanity. The Lord endured not only intense physical suffering but he also endured rejection by the people. He experienced complete desolation so that he would cry out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me.”

This year’s events around us draw us to the sufferings of our Lord and Master. We will not shun the cross, but rather we will embrace it. We share in Christ’s sufferings. In a few moments we will renew our priestly commitments. Tonight we do this in union with the suffering Christ.

Let us die with Christ, so that we might also rise with Him.

Let us embrace the cross and share in its pain, so that life and salvation may flow forth.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Tuesday, 16 April 2019