Bishop Banda’s Homily for Chrism Mass
May I welcome and express my appreciation to you all who serve the Lord and our people so well in the pastoral ministry as witnesses of our faith. The clergy, the consecrated, religious men and women, thank you most sincerely. Special thanks to you the lay men and women and our youths present today and those you represent. You are essential to the vibrant parish and diocesan life and you are the visible ambassadors of Christ in the world; thank you for your generosity in so many ways.
Today we make once again our spiritual journey to the Upper Room to commemorate our priesthood. It is in the Upper Room that our Lord instituted the Holy Priesthood. It is in the Upper Room that our Lord offered His first Eucharist vis-à-vis His last super. We have come yet again to thank Him for calling us to the priesthood. The Lord took a risk. He entrusted His Church to us, despite our unworthiness, our shortcomings and our sins.
The longer we stay in this vocation the more clearly we see that it takes more than intelligence, not even will power to remain a good priest. It takes grace to stay focused. We need God more than anything else. We need God to remain on course. We need God to stay on track. We need God to protect us. We need God to persevere in our ministry. Without God we can go nowhere and without God we are done.
The Renewal of our priestly Promises today affords us an opportunity not only to respond with our mouths but also to make sincere commitments in our hearts to establish and strengthen our interior relationship with God; and a personal configuration to the person of Jesus Christ to able to move beyond the unholy trinity of “I”, “Me” and “Myself”. In so doing, we will be seeking not what we stand for in order to gain but what we ought to give up for Him and for others in His imitation. This is the way Jesus lived out His life in obedience and humility all the way to the Cross.
His abandonment of self into the hands of His Father gives credibility to His mission. He not only talked about it but walked His talk. “Not my will, but your will be done”. This manifests a dying to self which we are all called to, in the imitation of our Lord in our lives. He died to self not because it was easy, but because He loved – He loved without measure. Love makes the impossible possible. Love makes us indifferent to opinions. Love generates generosity and service to others.
Those that share and serve, don’t do it because they have nothing to do with their time,resources or talents (or that they have in excess) but they do it because they love. They do it to please their beloved (Christ). Love brings us away from the limits of our individuality into communion with others – without reserve; in the same measure that God has blessed us.
May our interior relationship with the Lord that we are recommitting ourselves to; inspire us to Love our ministry above all things; make our love for the ministry so outstanding in generosity with our time, resources and talents. May our love for the ministry be exceptional at the service of God and neighbour. May our love for the ministry be the turning point in our lives to repent and convert.
We are not out of ourselves, but out of God. We are not there for our sake, but for the sake of the people entrusted to our care in their relationship with God (St. Vincent Pallotine). Our renewal of our priestly commitment cannot be overemphasized. That is where we draw our strength to continue being servants of joy with the grace of God.
Our everyday plan of our priestly ministry (both of the ordained and baptized) ought to be aligned with our Lord, Jesus Christ, the High Priest, in the daily celebration of the Eucharist. The daily celebration of the Eucharist will lead us into an intimate unity and sacramental equality with Jesus. This celebration as it were, will awaken and strengthen in us the “divine quality” of our mission to serve God and mankind.
On this feast day, I wish you all the baptized and the ordained the very best in your ministries. May Mary the Immaculately Conceived continue to intercede for us.