Omelija tal-Arċisqof Charles J. Scicluna
Chaplaincy tal-Università, Tal-Qroqq
11 ta’ Ġunju 2017
Let’s start with the Maltese phrase: “Griżma tal-Isqof”. What is “Griżma”? “Griżma” means “chrism”; it is the blessed oil that I consecrated as your Bishop on Maundy Thursday, the Thursday in Holy Week when the Church remembers the gift of the Spirit that moved Jesus, and is the Spirit of Jesus. It also remembers the gifts of the Eucharist, of the Priesthood and of the commandment of love.
It is the day before Good Friday and that is when the Bishop consecrates three types of oils. There is the oil of the cathechumens: those who are preparing for Baptism. It is an oil that gives strength in going against the currents of this world, and prepares the person to receive Christ in Baptism.
Then there is the holy oil of the sick which we use to give comfort and spiritual strength to those who are sick and those who are dying. And then there is the holy oil of chrism, it is a perfumed oil because the perfume means the holiness of the Christian life, and it is used to consecrate people to God in Baptism, in Confirmation, as you are going to do today, and also in the priesthood. It is used to consecrate altars and churches, it is used to consecrate not only people but also very important spaces and objects to God.
So “il-Griżma” which comes from the Greek “chrisma”, which is also linked to Christ “Christos” should remind you that you are being consecrated to Jesus. What does that mean? You belong to Jesus. Never forget that. You belong to Jesus. Jesus will never let you go. You can also decide to leave him, he will respect your freedom, but your decision today is that you want to belong to Jesus. Whatever happens to you in life, never forget this: you belong to Jesus. And Jesus will always keep taking caring of you, he will forgive you your sins, he will always love you, wherever you are, whatever happens to you, you belong to Jesus.
“Griżma tal-Isqof” is the sacrament that is usually administered by the Bishop as the chief shepherd in the diocese. And I wanted to be with you here today to make this very important statement: I welcome you as a school community, as a community of faith. But you are not a San Anton Christian, you are a Christian everywhere. You are a member of the Catholic Church everywhere, whether it is at school, whether it is doing sports or entertainment, when you enjoy your hobbies or when you travel, whether you are in a parish or a group of friends, you are always a Christian and the fact that the Bishop comes and administers this gift of the Spirit to you, means that you are a Christian 24/7. The Bishop symbolizes this even if he is a short chubby man, he still symbolizes the fullness of the Spirit in the Church for his community.
But in English we call it confirmation, why? Because today we confirm the commitment taken on your behalf at Baptism. Before you are anointed with the sacred chrism by the Bishop, you will be asked to confirm by renouncing Satan or the evil and embracing God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. So remember whenever you pray that very short but very important Christian prayer: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit”, remember you are going to confirm yourself in that faith. So many Christians died with this symbol and especially in the Oriental tradition, this symbol is the symbol of the Christians and usually it is a “one and a three” because we believe in one God in three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. You are being confirmed in the solemnity of God who is love the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
And you are receiving this gift of the Holy Spirit which is, as I said at the beginning, brings you the gifts of wisdom, of counsel, of piety – (the cat is not part of the celebration but it is welcome).Why? Because the Spirit moves us. (I hope it does not create more distractions than I have already created but mentioning it) – but it reminds us that, receiving the Holy Spirit is also not only a gift, it is also responsibility. We have received so many gifts and we have to share these gifts by being stewards of each other and of creation.
So this is the mission I want to give you and entrust to you today to be stewards, carers one of the other, but also to be stewards and carers of creation, of the environment. I know how dear animals, plants, trees, the birds are to each and every one of you and I want to confirm you. This confirmation is not only something that you do, by confirming your Christian commitment, the Lord confirms you in your mission, the mission to be carers of each other, that you love one another, that you forgive each other, but also that you take care of the creatures, of the people who need your care.
The Lord, in his goodness, will make you meet people who need your help. Never turn a blind eye, never pretend you are not seeing suffering, never pretend that somebody who needs your help, does not exist. You are Christians, you are Catholics. We face problems, we don’t run away from challenges, we face them all like Jesus did. And it is also the confirmation, the Spirit is given to each and every one of you today, confirming you in this pro-active Spirit that is the glory of the history of the Catholic Church.
If you go to Third World countries, and I am sure you are going to be there, in a minute, I mean because you grow very quickly and you are going to travel, you are going to go places and you’re going to meet so many circumstances, so many different environments and you are going to meet Catholic communities that are minority communities, that are pro-active, that are active in schools, in hospitals, in all that means bringing love to the least of our brethren and that is the glory of being part of this community.
You are being confirmed in this heritage because the Lord will one day ask you, and he will tell you rather: “I was thirsty and you gave me to drink, I was hungry you fed me, I was naked, you clothed me, I was in hospital and you came to visit me, I was in prison and you did not abandon me”. And you will say: “Where, Lord?” “Whatever you’ve done to the least of my brethren you have done that unto me” (cfr Mt 25, 35-45). And you are being confirmed in this great tradition that brings the love of God to each and every member of the family of human kind.
A word to the sponsors, to the godparents, or where there are some grandparents as well. Thank you very much for taking this role and this responsibility. It means that you are being called by the Church because of your role to pray for these young people. So the first duty is to pray, every day, to remember these young people who are now linked to you with a spiritual link.
The second is to give support. As we grow we do foolish things, we get into trouble, we need support, we need advice, we need a strong hand to pull us out. And the sponsor needs to be there.
And the third, probably more difficult I expect, is to be of good example. So these young men and women will grow up and they will get tired of long homilies like this one, and say: “Uff, how boring” and they will abandon the churches. And you may want to say: “Have you been to mass lately?” And if they say: “What about you?” that’s the end of the argument, not the beginning, that’s the end. Example! So prayer, support, example. So not only example as ritual, but also of integrity of life. It is being anointed with an oil, olive oil which is blessed by the Bishop with nard in it which gives it a very special perfume, that perfume is the integrity of the life of the Christian. And that is what we need to be in society.
You may be sons and daughters of the privileged but the Lord does not look at your bank accounts wherever they are, he looks at your heart and that is what you need to remember. I am not about what I have, I am about who I am, and who I become through the grace of God.
✠ Charles J.Scicluna
Archbishop of Malta