As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.Explanatory Rite of Catholic Baptism
When I think of Baptism, I think of the water, signifying the washing away of sins and the restoration of grace. Another element in Catholic Baptism is the anointing with the Holy Chrism oil. This anointing, similar to the anointing received by churches, altars, and sacred vessels, sets the newly baptized Christian apart from his old ways and seals his entry into the Body of Christ.
In the Old Testament, only three types of people were anointed: priests, prophets, and kings. Christ, the Anointed One Himself, fulfills these three roles to the fullest in the munus triplex (triple office). In our baptismal anointing, we are brought into this munus triplex. We are called to live these three offices in Christ.
In this season of Lent, we renew our wish to become more like Christ, the Anointed One. How can we live our anointing in everyday life?
But you are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises” of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.1 Peter 2:9
Priests are holy, set apart for God. Each person is included in the Universal Call to Holiness emphasized by the Second Vatican Council. While some, such as priests and religious, live this call visibly, all are meant to cultivate holiness in their lives.
This is a matter of priorities and focus. We must commit to keeping God at the center of our lives. Our relationship with Him must be our defining relationship. When we are holy in this way, we are instruments of holiness, able to bring all creation back to God, its creator.
Priests are mediators between God and Man. In ancient Rome, priests were called pontifices, bridge-makers. They were the link between the earthly and the divine, bringing heaven to earth and earth to heaven.
In the same way, we are meant to bring heaven to each other on earth, through opening our hearts to the mercy of God. When we allow the Lord to pour His ocean of mercy into us, we become a source of His mercy for others. By receiving mercy in our turn, we allow each other to perform this priestly office.
We are also called to see God in everything around us. The Creator has hidden His goodness in everything. Like tellers of fairy tales, we must seek these miracles of truth, the fantastic among the mundane, power hidden in weakness, beauty shining through ugliness. In prayer as participators in the priesthood of Christ, we bring these earthly things to heaven.
Priests offer sacrifice. The good and bad things we see throughout our days, the joys and tragedies, things we understand and things that are incomprehensible, all are meant to be offered to God. In offering all to God, we allow Him to make it holy. He created it; only He can bring it to good.
Priests are sacrifices. They offer themselves to be wounded as Christ was wounded by compassionate love, hatred, pain, and joy. They become the good in all things and offer themselves as the victim and the altar, in unity with Christ.
In baptism, we are called to live Christ’s anointing as priests. May we come to practice that call this Lent.