Posted by: Fr Chris | April 17, 2019

Anointing for the Journey to the Cross

Holy Wednesday

The Old Testament readings again give us people who prefigure Jesus.

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Moses takes off his shoes on holy ground at the bush that would not be consumed by fire

Moses – acting as a defender of both the Hebrews, and of those oppressed by wicked men by saving the women from the abusive shepherds. Moses will deliver his people by responding to God’s commands and lead them out  of Egypt – which in the Bible later becomes symbolic for Israel being freed from sin. Christ of course leads all people out of sin’s power, to be transformed by God’s grace into  healthy, free souls.

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St Job the Long-Suffering 

Job – innocent,  suffering, and yet remains constant in his trust and faith in God in the face of complete disaster. His own wife tells him to curse God and die, but he does not waver in his faith. Jesus enters into His agony on Thursday night, and throughout His Passion He does not complain or despair. Even His lament My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me? is not despair but the opening of Psalm 22, a lament which ends in triumph.

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30 pieces of silver from Palestine, 1st century 

The Gospel gives us the betrayal, which is in the Eastern Churches Wednesday is a day of penance and abstinence from meat for most of the year. The price that Judas agrees on is the price paid for capturing a bandit, an outlaw. Jesus the Redeemer of the world is sold to the religious authorities, because He claimed to be the Son of God, man and divine. That small reward money is enough for Judas to betray Jesus, fulfilling Jesus’ own warning in Matthew chapter 6, we cannot serve God and money – one will win out in the end, and for Judas it’s the money.

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St Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus 

Tonight though we also celebrate the great sacrament, the Holy Mystery of Anointing. Everyone is anointed tonight with holy oil. We do this in remembrance of the woman who did that to Jesus, of whom He said, she is preparing my body for burial. We enter into this Mystery which Jesus Himself received and which the Church has used from its very foundation, to seek healing and strength. Healing for anything that needs healing: spiritual, physical, emotional. Strength to resist Satan’s temptations and actions especially now when he seeks to distract people from the events of Holy Week and the Resurrection.

Our Lord entered into His Passion beginning on Palm Sunday, knowing that the praise of the crowds would turn quickly from Hosanna to Crucify Him. Are we part of the mob, or are we His faithful brothers and sisters through baptism?

Do we betray Jesus by our sins, the things we know we should not do, or say, or think? Would I have gone with the mob on Good Friday, or would I have stood with Mary and Saint John at the cross? My actions now in this life give me the answer. If my actions are such that I would have followed the mob, then ask God tonight for the healing of those and that His grace, given in this sacrament, will heal me of the tendency to fall away from Him and instead to be with Him.

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Life throws us curves all the time, all of us know some kind of hardship. Whatever the problem, even when we pray to be delivered from something and it doesn’t happen, we must remember that God is truly present to us and with us, as the Father was to the Son throughout the entire Passion up to and including His death. Jesus in His humanity feared the torture and horrors of Thursday night and Good Friday, but His human will conforms to the divine will because it is the only way that we can be saved. Suffering is redemptive, though our culture runs from it. In this sacrament of Anointing tonight, let us ask God’s grace to help us go forward through our own problems toward Him, trusting like Job, trusting like Jesus Himself, that He will indeed carry us and give us the strength we need, that as the new Moses He can free us, His people, from sin. Do not be afraid to ask for healing – I have seen miracles of  healing take place with this sacrament. Again, present our physical, emotional, spiritual problems to God and ask Him to cure those problems and put all our confidence, all our trust in God and the revelation He has given in His Only Son and in the Church founded by His Son.

Christ IS among us.

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