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All Are Annointed

In the Old Testament, we read of prophets singling out individuals like David and anointing them—empowering them to perform their Divine Mission. I believe that Jesus revolutionized the way God empowers individuals, just as he revolutionized public worship. And there is a connection between the two that has been overlooked.

During Jesus’ time, the Paschal Lamb could only be slain in public worship in the Temple at Jerusalem. Jesus revolutionized public worship by creating a celebration in a Eucharistic Community, centered on a Love Meal, wherever Jesus’ followers come together. Likewise, Jesus revolutionized anointing of individuals by empowering ALL of his followers, and not through the medium of prophets, but directly through the Holy Spirit. Where? At the celebrations of Jesus’ Love Meal.

Unfortunately, the significance of Jesus’ Love Meal has largely been ignored. Despite the fact that the Vatican ll Council declared the Eucharist to be the “source and summit of Christian life.” The reality of our Eucharistic Celebrations is that we are all invited to be anointed. The empowerment is ours for the asking. No credentials required. No skills needed. Just heartfelt desire and awareness of the powers at work. The invitation is offered at Jesus’ Love Meal in at least two ways:

  • Anointing for personal transformation to help bring about the Beloved Community; and
  • Anointing for us to empower others to greater love, hope and faith.

Anointed for Transformation. Through the gift of his Love Meal, Jesus became the ultimate and eternal source for bringing us to wholeness and holiness. It is at the Consecration of the bread and wine that what are symbols of our lives become our consecrated selves along with Jesus. We are made sacred for the sacrifice!

Not in one shot. That is what life is all about. It is a process. Our personal transformation is the work of the Spirit within us. Our work is to surrender to union with the Spirit, to yield to transformation by the Spirit—especially during our Eucharistic Celebrations. Focusing on one area of our personal woundedness makes the transformation process more real to us.

Personal transformation is a process that requires our ardent desire, a desire that we are not even capable of awakening. During our Eucharistic Celebrations we need to pray that the Spirit will open up our hearts to desire personal transformation.

Besides desire, our personal transformation process requires our deep awareness of what is taking place. At our Eucharistic Celebrations we celebrate Jesus’ crucifixion and death. We must enter deeply, if only briefly, into these historical events with all our hearts and imaginations.

Remembrance of Jesus’ demonstrated love becomes the channel of love that unites us with the Trinity of Love. The psychic fire of this Trinitarian Love is the agent of change, but it requires the environment of a committed union to blaze up. Our immersion in this Mystical Union creates the Divine crucible of love. Our hunger to be plunged into this Divine crucible starts the process of our transformation.

Anointed for Empowerment. Elsewhere we have written that the Eucharist offers us a Life Vision. A vision that prompts us to identify with Jesus who led a life of empowering others and bringing others into deeper union with God, themselves, others, life, reality.  But the Eucharist is more than a Life Vision. Reception of Eucharist is an anointing, an empowerment to live Jesus’ Life Vision.

When we eat the bread and drink the wine of Eucharist, we receive Jesus and our sisters and brothers, and they receive  us. Through this Mystical Union we are anointed to become empowerers of each other. Again, our immersion in this Mystical Union is the environment for empowerment. Of course, this empowerment process depends on our awareness of and desire for what is taking place. During Eucharistic Celebrations, pray for this anointing to become channels of love, hope and faith to our sisters and brothers to awaken their love, hope and faith.

Choose Anointing. We are all anointed at our Eucharistic Celebrations. We are all chosen if we so choose. Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM states that it is the “very experience of being chosen that somehow empowers us…. To allow yourself to be chosen is to be chosen. God chooses and then uses whom he has chosen, and their useability comes from their willingness to allow themselves to be chosen in the first place.” Choose to be anointed at Eucharistic Celebrations for personal transformation and for the capacity to empower others!

Practice Jesus’ Ongoing Incarnation

Through his Resurrection, the Risen Christ unleashed three major spiritual realities. He transformed the whole life of the historical Jesus into a sacramental power source present here and now. He poured forth the power of his Spirit who acts as our constant guide and mentor. And he incorporated the Body of Christ, continuing his Incarnation in us and thus empowering us with his presence and powers, both as members and as a community. How do we manifest the Risen Christ within us? Practice Jesus’ ongoing Incarnation in us by exercising his powers in our actions and relationships to others.

Be Sacraments to Others. As members of Christ’s Body, we are empowered to carry on the work of Jesus. We continue the work of the sacraments. Whatever the sacraments do, we do for one another. We forgive, we heal, we bind others to Christ through our love. In his book, The Holy Longing, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser states that when we continue to love and forgive the sins of others and, insofar as they receive that love and forgiveness from us, they are receiving love and forgiveness from God. Why? Because we are part of the Body of Christ and they are touching us. “What Jesus did we too can do; in fact, that is precisely what we are asked to do,” he writes. Be sacraments!  

Be Compassion to Others. In Jesus Before Christianity, Fr. Albert Nolan describing the taboos against social mixing between the clearly defined classes within Jewish society in Jesus’ times states: “The scandal Jesus caused in that society by mixing socially with sinners can hardly be imagined by most people in the modern world today. It meant that he accepted them and approved of them and that he actually wanted to be ‘a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” Jesus gifted society’s outcasts with his presence and affirmed their giftedness. He exercised compassion in the sense of making himself fully present to them, with all his mind and with all his heart in order to receive their presence and their giftedness. For Jesus, all persons were gifts; there were no cellophane people. In solidarity with the Father, Jesus saw others as the Father saw them—unfinished creations of the Father, diamonds in the rough. Be compassion to others!

 Be Communion to Others. When we live compassionately for others to its fullest degree, we become communion to others. As compassion is being spiritually present to others, communion is being physically present to others. In his book, Our Journey Home, Jean Vanier gives us an insight into the meaning of communion. He says that communion is being bodily present to others. Body language—gestures, tone of voice, the look in our eyes, a handshake or a hug—is the fundamental instrument of communion. In the way we look and listen, we can reveal to someone his or her importance and unique giftedness. Be communion to others!

Be Channels of Faith. Fr. Nolan points out that Jesus was unlike the holy men of his times who worked healings. They relied upon their own holiness, their own esteem in the eyes of God; Jesus relied upon the power of faith of others. Jesus said to the persons he cured: “Your faith has healed you.” Nolan states: “He is saying in effect that it is not he who has healed the sick person….Jesus’ own faith, his own unshakable convictions, awakened this faith in them. Faith was an attitude that people caught from Jesus through their contact with him, almost as if it were a kind of infection….Jesus was an initiator of faith. Be channels of faith for others. Let your faith awaken faith and hope in others!

Where is the playing field for practicing Jesus’ ongoing incarnation in us? In our everyday lives, everyday dialogues, everyday relationships. And in carrying out Jesus’ mission to free people of every form of oppression—social, political, institutional.

Compassion for Others

On our Cursillo Weekend we experienced very deeply God’s compassion for us and the Cursillo community’s compassion for us. We encountered a love community who was there for us, and their care, attention and self-gift to us enabled us to encounter the One who is Absolute Love, Presence and Self-gift. Ideally, our gratefulness for this gift of compassion should convert us to a new relationship with others. Indeed, we should want to grow in the virtue of compassion to live lives of compassion to others.

Our Weekend experience gives the word “compassion” a whole new dimension of meaning. Compassion for Cursillistas is being fully present in a caring, attentive way to another so as to receive the presence and giftedness of the other. When we are compassionate, we give the other person our presence, our hearts and our minds. We offer ourselves totally as self-gift with the expectancy that we will discover the giftedness of the other. Since we are totally committed to the other, we suspend judgment of the other. Consequently, we see the other in an entirely different light.

Christ exemplifies for us the virtue of compassion. Christ lived a life of passionate relationship to others, was fully present to those whom he encountered and was totally self-giving to others. What a magnetic presence Christ must have been! How his sense of love and fellowship must have resonated with those who followed Him! He was clearly an enormous love force in their midst.

There are two essential steps to exercise compassion. First, center down by focusing your attention on your body, mind and will in a very gentle and loving way; we might look upon this step as being compassionate to ourselves. This act of self-compassion enables us to reach out to others. Then, focus on the person you wish to encounter in compassion, again in a gentle and loving way until you experience the presence of the other’s spirit. It will take some practice; so make a deliberate practice of being compassionate toward others. Being Christ means being compassionate toward others.

When we live compassion for others to its fullest degree, we become communion to others. As compassion is being spiritually present to others, communion is being physically present to others. In his book, Our Journey Home, Jean Vanier gives us an insight into the meaning of communion. He says that communion is being bodily present to others. Body language—gestures, tone of voice, the look in our eyes, a handshake or a hug—is the fundamental instrument of communion. In the way we look and listen, we can reveal to someone his or her importance and uniqueness.

People are hungering for communion,Vaniersays, though they may not be aware of the term. Compassion brought to the height of communion is the radical love of others that Christ is asking of us. Christ understood the human need of people for communion. On the night before He died, He gave us the Eucharist. Being communion to others helps us appreciate Christ’s being Communion to us.

As other Christs, we are called to love others as Christ did, but it is difficult. It takes practice and education of the heart to accept the unique differences of others. We must learn to accept that they are called to develop their own potentials, and we should be willing to help that process. We must learn to respect their personality types, especially when they are so different from our own. People’s diversity is God’s creativity.

Be compassion, be communion to others. In this way, we are empowered to make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ, whether the person is a candidate for Cursillo or a fellow Cursillista.