(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Monday morning in the chapel of the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta residence. In remarks following the readings of the day, the Holy Father spoke of the Church as a divinely ordained institution in which some individuals – the men who answer the call to become priests and bishops – are specially anointed to serve the people of God. The Pope thanked the many holy priests who give their lives in the anonymity of their daily service.
Commenting on the first reading of the day, which speaks of the tribes of Israel that anoint David as their king, the Pope explained the significance of spiritual anointing, saying, “Without this anointing, David would have been only the head,” of the, “company” of a “political society, which was the Kingdom of Israel” He would have been a mere, “political organizer.” Instead, “After the anointing , the Spirit of the Lord,” descends upon David and stays with him. Scripture says that David continued to grow in power, and that the Lord was with him. “This,” said Pope Francis, “is precisely the difference anointing makes.” The anointed one is a person chosen by the Lord. So it is in the Church for bishops and priests:
“The bishops are elected not only to conduct an organization, which is called the particular Church. They are anointed: they have the anointing and the Spirit of the Lord is with them. All the bishops are sinners, every one. Still, we are anointed. We all want to be more holy every day, more faithful to this anointing. The person of the bishop is the thing that [constitutes] a Church [as such], in the name of Jesus Christ – because he is anointed, not because he was voted by the majority. It is in this anointing that a particular Church has its strength. Because they take part [in the bishop’s mission of service] priests are anointed, as well.”
Pope Francis went on to say that anointing brings bishops and priests closer to the Lord and gives them the joy and strength, “To carry [their] people forward, to help [their] people, to live in the service of [their] people.” Anointing gives the joy of feeling oneself “chosen by the Lord, watched by the Lord, with that love with which the Lord looks upon all of us.” Thus, “When we think of bishops and priests, we must think of them in this way: [as] anointed ones.”:
“On the contrary, it is impossible to understand – not only – it is impossible to explain how the Church could continue under merely human strength. This diocese goes forward because it has a holy people, many things, and also an anointed one who leads, who helps it to grow. This parish progresses because it has many organizations, many things, but it also has a priest, who carries the parish forward. We in history know but a small part - though how many holy bishops, how many priests, how many holy priests have given their lives in the service of the diocese, the parish – how many people have received the power of faith, the power of love, hope [itself] from these anonymous pastors? We do not know: there are so many.”
They are many, explained Pope Francis, “The parish priests of the country or the city, who, with their anointing have given strength the people, who have passed on the teaching of the faith, have given the sacraments: [in a word], holiness.”:
“‘But , Father, I have read in a newspaper that a bishop has done such a thing, or a priest who has done this thing.’ Oh yes, I read it, too. Tell me, though: do the papers carry news of what great charity so many priests, so many priests in so many parishes of the city and the countryside, perform? Of the great work they do in carrying their people forward? No? This is not news. It is the same as always: a single falling tree makes more noise than a forest that grows. Today, thinking about this anointing of David, it will do us good to think of our brave, holy , good , faithful bishops and priests, and pray for them. We are here today thanks to them.”
Text from Vatican Radio website