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SANDAKAN – Bishop Julius Gitom urged his priests to go out into the streets in his homily during the Chrism Mass recently.
Bishop Julius Gitom presided over the trilingual Chrism Mass, concelebrated with eight diocesan priests on 10 Mar 2016, which was well attended at St Mary’s Cathedral here. Three seminarians on pastoral exposures were present to assist in the liturgy. At this special Mass, all priests renewed their priestly promises during the Eucharistic celebration.
“In this Year of Mercy, the Pope has said on several occasions that ‘the priest must go out into the street, dirty his feet by the dirt of the road,’ and therefore we need to go out in imitation of Christ in order to experience ourselves our own anointing. As we go out we bring that redemptive power of the oil of gladness to where there is suffering, blindness, to free people imprisoned by their own weaknesses, to free them from evil that they may experience God’s Mercy through our ministry of service,” said the prelate in his homily.
The prelate explained that Chrism Mass is a special time for the clergy to record thanksgiving to the Lord for the gift of priesthood. As the anointed ones, they may in turn anoint God’s people especially the poor, the oppressed and those who are the weakest in society.
He said, “I would like to urge our priests in this Holy Year of Grace to renew our Christian promises. We must remind ourselves to be the anointed light and therefore strive to be the light of Christ. It means we must have that very strong relationship with the Lord and endeavour to imitate him at all times.”
“People can recognise us to be good priests by the way we anoint his people. It means that they are touched by the Word of God and that they really have Jesus in their hearts through the reception of the Sacraments. We must be able to live the Gospel values ourselves and that’s how we anoint people. That’s how we bring the light of Christ to them especially in moments of extreme darkness. When everything seems to be hopeless and there seems no way out, we preach that hope and that’s how we anoint people,” he continued.
Calling on the people to support them, to be close to them in affection, and help them in their service through their prayers so that they may always be shepherds according to God’s heart, he said, “Please encourage them, correct them whenever they err but never condemn them.”
He ended with a prayer for priests citing Pope Francis, “May our people sense that we are the Lord’s disciples; may they feel that their names are written upon our priestly vestments and that we seek no other identity.” – DS