When we were baptized into Christ and clothed ourselves in him, we were transformed into the likeness of the Son of God. Having destined us to be his adopted sons, God gave us a likeness to Christ in his glory, and living as we do in communion with Christ, God’s anointed, we ourselves are rightly called “the anointed ones.” When he said: Do not touch my anointed ones, God was speaking of us.
We became “the anointed ones” when we received the sign of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, everything took place in us by means of images, because we ourselves are images of Christ. Christ bathed in the river Jordan, imparting to its waters the fragrance of his divinity, and when he came up from them the Holy Spirit descended upon him, like resting upon like. So we also, after coming up from the sacred waters of baptism, were anointed with chrism, which signifies the Holy Spirit, by whom Christ was anointed and of whom blessed Isaiah prophesied in the name of the Lord: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor.
Christ’s anointing was not by human hands, nor was it with ordinary oil. On the contrary, having destined him to be the Saviour of the whole world, the Father himself anointed him with the Holy Spirit. The words of Peter bear witness to this: Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit. And David the prophet proclaimed: Your throne, O God, shall endure for ever; your royal sceptre is a sceptre of justice. You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above all your fellows.
The oil of gladness with which Christ was anointed was a spiritual oil; it was in fact the Holy Spirit himself, who is called the oil of gladness because he is the source of spiritual joy. But we too have been anointed with oil, and by this anointing we have entered into fellowship with Christ and have received a share in his life. Beware of thinking that this holy oil is simply ordinary oil and nothing else. After the invocation of the Spirit it is no longer ordinary oil but the gift of Christ, and by the presence of his divinity it becomes the instrument through which we receive the Holy Spirit. While symbolically, on our foreheads and senses, our bodies are anointed with this oil that we see, our souls are sanctified by the holy and life-giving Spirit.
“They have forsaken Me, the Source of living waters; they have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water.” —Jeremiah 2:13
Does your life hold water — the living waters of God’s grace, baptism, and the Holy Spirit? The patterns that we develop in our lives can be likened to digging cisterns (see Jer 2:13). These patterns will either help us retain and grow in our faith or contribute to an erosion and loss of our faith. For instance, a cistern, or way of life, in which God’s Word is not taken authoritatively will usually not hold water for long. A cistern in which the Pope is not obeyed will not hold water amid divisive or confusing circumstances. A cistern permissive toward TV is like a sieve. A cistern which emphasizes celebrating daily Mass and Holy Communion usually holds water even under the worst conditions. A cistern in which Christians live in Biblical community holds water better than any other type of cistern. Those in Christian community are very likely to keep the faith.
Christians are leaking badly. Although we have received rivers of living water (see Jn 7:38), we may be bone-dry. Sometimes we deal with this situation by pumping more living water into our lives. We have spurts of prayer, go to special conferences, or have revivals and renewals. However, the living water soon leaks out of our lives. We need more than additional water; we must fix the leaks, that is, dig an unbroken cistern, by repenting and significantly changing the patterns of our lives.
Prayer: Father, may I be filled with the Spirit (see Acts 2:4) and stay filled.
Promise: “O Lord, Your kindness reaches to heaven; Your faithfulness, to the clouds.” —Ps 36:6
Praise: St. Sharbel Makhluf was a Lebanese monk who lived as a hermit in poverty, self-sacrifice, and prayer. He traded his previous life for a lifetime of serving Jesus, and thereby discovered who he was (Mt 10:39).
From the Explanations of the Psalms
by St Ambrose, [ c.340 - 397 ] bishop
Why do you turn your face away? We think that God has turned his face away from us when we find ourselves suffering, so that shadows overwhelm our feelings and stop our eyes from seeing the brilliance of the truth. All the same, if God touches our intellect and chooses to become present to our minds then we will be certain that nothing can lead us into darkness.
A man’s face shines out more than the rest of his body and it is by the face that we perceive strangers and recognise our friends. How much more, then, is the face of God able to bring illumination to whoever he looks at!
The apostle Paul has something important to say about this, as about so many other things. He is a true interpreter of Christ for us, bringing him to our understanding through well-chosen words and images. He says: It is the same God that said, ‘Let there be light shining out of darkness’, who has shone in our minds to radiate the light of the knowledge of God’s glory, the glory on the face of Christ. We have heard where Christ shines in us: he is the eternal brilliant illumination of souls, whom the Father sent into the world so that his face should shine on us and permit us to contemplate eternal and heavenly truths – we who had been plunged in earthly darkness.
What shall I say about Christ, when even the apostle Peter said to the man who had been lame from birth Look upon us? The cripple looked at Peter and found light by the grace of faith: unless he had faithfully believed he could not have received healing.
When there was so much glory to be seen among the Apostles, Zachaeus, hearing that the Lord Jesus was passing by, climbed a tree because he was small and weak and could not see the Lord through the crowd. He saw Christ and he found light. He saw Christ and instead of robbing others of their goods he began to give away his own.
Why do you turn your face away? Let us read it thus: even if you do turn your face away from us, Lord, its light is still imprinted upon us. We hold it in our hearts and our innermost feelings are transformed by its light.
For if you truly turn your face away, Lord, no-one can survive.
“He died for all so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for Him Who for their sakes died and was raised up.” —2 Corinthians 5:15
Many people think that living for themselves, doing their own thing, getting their way is the goal of life. However, after they try this for a while, they feel empty. At first, they think that the cause of their emptiness is failing to get their own way in everything. So they try to do their own thing even more, but this makes matters even worse. Finally, they begin to suspect that the constant, self-centering brainwashing they’ve received over the years was a big lie. Then these people hear about or remember when they heard about Jesus, the cross, dying to self (Lk 9:23), and following Jesus. Could it be that Jesus crucified is the Truth, the Way to happiness, and the Meaning of life? (see Jn 14:6)
Mary Magdalene found out that there’s no such thing as doing your own thing. When she thought she was doing her own thing, she was being manipulated and enslaved into doing the devil’s things. She was possessed by seven devils (Lk 8:2). Finally, she met Jesus and decided to do His thing — even if it meant weeping at the foot of His cross (Jn 19:25) and at His grave (Jn 20:11). Through, with, and in Jesus, she discovered the meaning of life. She met Jesus, Who is Life (Jn 14:6), when He rose from the dead.
Prayer: Father, may I live a life of love, not of self.
Promise: “I had hardly left them when I found Him Whom my heart loves.” —Sg 3:4
Praise: St. Mary Magdalene evangelized the first pope (Jn 20:18).