THEME: Institution of the Ministerial Priesthood.

BY: Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE.

Christ is the One and Eternal Priest of the New Covenant. He is the sole Mediator of the plenitude of God’s blessings and graces and favours. Outside Christ, the journey becomes very clumsy, disoriented and bound to failure. Christ accomplishes His sole mediatory role through palpable signs such that the Fount of grace and blessings, and God’s offer of Mercy and Reconciliation are made accessible to all by the power of the Holy Spirit. Priests play very important roles in the context of the Mediatorship of Christ. The various Sacramental signs bring us to partake of the merits of Christ’s Mediatorship in human mode. May the merits of Christ’s Paschal Mysteries remain superabundantly accessible for us in the Church; Amen.


With the Liturgy of the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass, the Church commemorates the Solemn Institution of the Ministerial Priesthood, which took place at the very scene of the Last Supper. The Ministry of Sacramentally Ordained Priests is a necessary intervention by Christ in which He conferred the dignity of the Ministerial Priesthood on his Apostles through which they are to make available and prolong the Merits of His Life, Death and Resurrection for all generations by the power of the Holy Spirit. Hence, Priests are ordained to act in the person of Christ and in the name of the Church, to make Christ present in our midst and to lead all into the Mysteries and Merits of Christ’s Existence. At the heart of the Priestly Ministry is the Sacrifice of the Mass in which the fullness of grace and splendour is visibly made present in our midst under the appearance of the Eucharistic Species. A priest is a man, called, formed, ordained and sent to become an instrument of salvation for all those he encounters. In a priest and through a priest, the Priest is present to us and He ministers to us and brings God to us as He leads us to God. The Gospel Reading (Luke 4:16-21) speaks to us about Christ the Priest in whose Eternal Priesthood all priests share; “the spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.” In these words prophetically spoken of Jesus (Isaiah 61:1-3, 6, 8-9), every priest locates himself and the core of his ministry. Recognising the precious nature of this gift of God to men, the Church also celebrates today as the day of priests and invites all priests to renew the promises they made to God in His Church. One thing is certain, the efficacy of one’s Priestly Ministry depends a lot on one’s alignment to Christ, the Eternal Priest, and on one’s fidelity to the Church within which one is called, formed, ordained, and commissioned to function as a priest. Alignment to Christ and fidelity to the Church are impossible with the power of the Holy Spirit. Hence, a priest is also a man of the Spirit after the example of Christ who was filled by the power of the Holy Spirit and went about doing good (Acts 10:34). These relationships with God inspire, inform and orient a priest’s relationship with his brothers and sisters as a servant, who is saved to save; who serves rather than being served.

Every priest accomplishes his mission through the use of holy signs, ordained by Christ and ratified by the Church. The Sacred Oils are very central to these signs; namely the Oil of Chrism, the Oil of Catechumens and the Oil of the Sick. In the Morning Mass of today (Chrism Mass), these oils are blessed by the Bishop in the presence of the Faithful. The Liturgy of today also takes its name (Chrism Mass) from the Oil of Chrism that is of great precedence among the three Oils. The name Chrism is not only linked to the name and person of Christ but also is the Sacramental Sign and Seal that indicates our participation in the triplex munera of Christ as Priest, Prophet and King via Baptism. With the Oil of Chrism, the Holy Spirit is infused into those who receive the Sacrament of Confirmation that they are fortified and become Soldiers of Christ and of His Church. With this same Oil, Priests and Bishops are anointed to signal the presence of the Holy Spirit in the ordained without which priests and Bishops cannot perform their respective Ministerial responsibilities. With the Oil of Chrism, the words of the Second Reading (Apocalypse 1:5-8) are accomplished in the lives of believers; namely, Jesus has “made us a line of kings, priests to serve his God and Father.” As we celebrate these Solemn Realities, we come to terms with how God comes to us in simple forms. He is the God with us and His presence are made manifest through concrete signs that have been permeated by the power of God and endowed with the capacity to evoke and infuse the grace of God in us. It is sometimes easy to be lost in our lofty ideas and the quest for things that are esoteric and extraordinary, whereas God has rendered these ordinary things and signs with the capacity to evoke extraordinary effects.

Heavenly Father, You are so kind and generous that You have made the glorious things of heaven available and accessible to us through the simple things of earth. May we never grow so familiar as to lose sight of this Your most generous and gracious act, especially in the ministry of your priests; Amen. Happy Feast;


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