Sermon at the Mass for the Blessing of Oils on Holy Thursday
Saint Mary’s Cathedral, 5 April 2012
First Reading: Isaiah 61, 1-3a, 9a, 8b-9
Second Reading: Revelation 1, 5-8
Gospel: Luke 4, 16-21
In St. Luke’s gospel Jesus declares his own mission by quoting the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people.” Luke 4, 18-19.
We the church have inherited this mission of Jesus.
Pope Benedict XVI, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, has declared a “Year of Faith” that will run from Oct.11, 2012 to Nov. 24, 2013.
Vatican II produced and published important documents dealing with mission of the church..
First of all, there is “The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.”
This Constitution begins with the words “Lumen gentium (Light of the nations).” “Christ is the Light of the nations. Therefore, this Sacred Synod gathered together in the Holy Spirit eagerly desires, by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature, to bring the light of Christ to all men, a light brightly visible on the countenance of the Church.” (N. 1) The mission of the church is to receive the “light” from the Lord Jesus and with this light illumine the world.
One year has passed since the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, and Japanese society is still climbing up the steep road to reconstruction.
Today let us pray especially that we can enkindle a new light in the hearts of the afflicted through the church’s celebration of Christ’s resurrection.
The Mission of the Church in the modern world has been described further in the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World”.
As you all know, this Constitution begins with the words “Gaudium et spes (Joy and hope)”.
“The joys and hopes, the grief and anxiety of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the grief and anxiety of the followers of Christ. ”(N.1)
The Church has a deep interest in the current state of world affairs, as well as a deep sympathy for the grief and joy of people throughout the world.
The Church also feels called to fight for the solution of problems everywhere. In the modern world there are countless challenges and difficulties everywhere, and it is not easy for the Church to fulfill its mission of evangelization. However, those who evangelize should carry out this responsibility with enthusiasm and joy.
Pope Paul VI promulgated the Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii nuntiandi” to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the end of Vatican II. In this Exhortation it says as follows: “…may the world of today which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the Good News not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ, and who are willing to risk their lives so that the kingdom may be proclaimed and the Church established in the midst of the world.” (N.80)
After the Second Vatican Council and the Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii nuntiandi” of Pope Paul VI, in 1987, the Japanese bishops held ”The First National Incentive Convention for Evangelization“(NICE-1). This brought together lay people, priests, religious, and the bishops, to discuss what we should do in order to shine the light of Christ in contemporary Japanese society. This year is the 25th anniversary of the holding of NICE-1.
We priests who have received the mission to evangelize this land of Japan, today renew our “Priestly Vows”. Let us pray on this occasion that we who have received the mission to exercise priestly ministry in the name of Christ, though it be in a weak human nature like “earthen vessels”, may prepare ourselves appropriately to welcome the “Year of faith”.
In addition, let us pray that we the church, may receive the grace to assist, comfort, encourage, and stir up hope in our brothers and sisters who find themselves in difficult situations in this wilderness of modern times.
April 19 is the anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. Let us pray that the Lord Our God may guide and sustain the Holy Father and pour out abundant grace over him as he fulfills his responsibility for the good of people throughout the world.