2 Apr – Maundy Thursday
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring good news to the poor,
to bind up hearts that are broken;
to proclaim liberty to captives,
freedom to those in prison;
to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord,
a day of vengeance for our God,
to comfort all those who mourn and to give them
for ashes a garland;
for mourning robe the oil of gladness,
for despondency, praise.
But you, you will be named ‘priests of the Lord’,
they will call you ‘ministers of our God.’
I reward them faithfully
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their race will be famous throughout the nations,
their descendants throughout the peoples.
All who see them will admit
that they are a race whom the Lord has blessed.
Grace and peace to you from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the First-born from the dead, the Ruler of the kings of the earth. He loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood, and made us a line of kings, priests to serve his God and Father; to him, then, be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen. It is he who is coming on the clouds; everyone will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the races of the earth will mourn over him. This is the truth. Amen. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’ says the Lord God, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.
Jesus came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.
He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’
To comfort all those who mourn and to give them for ashes a garland, for mourning robe the oil of gladness, for despondency, praise
In the Old Testament, high priests and kings were consecrated and anointed with olive oil mixed with a combination of fragrant herbs and spices like myrrh, cinnamon, sweet cane and cassia. Moses consecrated Aaron and his sons with oil (Leviticus 8:30), Samuel poured olive oil on Saul’s head and anointed him as King of Israel (1 Samuel 10:1), and later also anointed David as King (1 Samuel 16:13). By doing so, this marked them as the chosen ones of God.
In present day, the chrism oil is still used especially during baptism. Cathecumens are anointed with the oil in the sign of the cross as a symbol of being called by God, and with this oil it is believed to strengthen cathecumens against evil and sin.
The oil marks us as being chosen by God, as the kings of Israel were in the past. What does this say for us? We each have a role to play in God’s bigger plan for the world. We may feel that we are insignificant and small sometimes. What could we possibly do? We may perceive ourselves as lacking in certain qualities and abilities, physical or otherwise, but this is how the world perceives us; it is not how God perceives us. We did not choose God, rather He chose us because He saw in us a “special something” and He formed that “special something” before we were even born (John 15:16, Jeremiah 1:5). He put us here as part of His plan, so that He could work His miracles through us. And through His miracle, then shall His power and glory be made known to all, and lead others to believe in the love and mercy of our wonderful Creator. Imagine that… someone actually believes that we are special enough to work a miracle through us. Someone believes that we are capable of doing great things, and more importantly, someone believes in us when we have stopped believing in ourselves. That in itself is quite a humbling thought.
When we are anointed, the Holy Spirit resides in us. It is the Holy Spirit who will then guide us and teach us to do the right thing by God (1 John 2:27). And if we question God’s presence in our lives or our being chosen by God, then remember Psalm 23: “You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me, all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)
Prayer: God, we pray that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ, and being worthy as a chosen child of God. May the anointment we received at baptism strengthen us.
Thanksgiving: God, thank you for choosing me to be one of Your own. Even though I don’t know yet what my purpose may be, I know that You will guide me and show me the way.