On Holy Thursday, Pope Francis celebrated the Chrism Mass, where he blessed the Holy Oils used in the several Sacraments, including the ordination of priests.
This particular moment was the theme of his homily. The Pope said that, upon their ordination, all priests are anointed with the "oil of joy.”
"Priestly joy is a priceless treasure, not only for the priest himself but for the entire people of God: those faithful for which the priest is called to be anointed, and which he, in turn, is sent to anoint.”
In defining what priestly joy is, the Pope listed three main points. The first is that it comes from deep within, from the moment priests are ordained and anointed with holy oil.
The second is that joy is never-ending, and can also be renewed. The third point, he said, is that priestly joy is missionary at heart.
"Our anointing is done to anoint God’s holy and faithful people: for baptizing and confirming them, healing and sanctifying them, blessing, comforting and evangelizing them.”
Pope Francis said this connection between a priest and his flock is essential. And that in times of boredom or sadness, a priest can find joy within his congregation. He referred to it as a "protected joy,” guarded by the congregation, and by its "sisters”: poverty, loyalty and obedience.
A priest is materially poor, the Pope explained, so instead he seeks joy in God, and his people. But in order to do so, he asked them to "go out” from themselves, and among the people of God, who gives the priests purpose and identity.
"If you don't go out from yourself, the holy oil grows rancid and the anointing cannot be fruitful. Going out from ourselves presupposes self-denial; it means poverty.”
The Pope added that priests must also be loyal to the "living Church,” made up of his "spiritual children,” which include the children he's baptized, the sick he's tended to, and the people he helps.
He also stressed the obedience all priests must have to the Church, but especially the Church's mission to be there, with arms open, for all.
"Wherever God’s people have desires or needs, there is the priest, who knows how to listen and feels a loving mandate from Christ, who sends him to relieve that need with mercy or to encourage those good desires with resourceful charity.”
To conclude his homily, Pope Francis called on Christ to preserve the joy of newly ordained priest, to confirm the joy of experienced priests, and make better known the joy of elderly priests.