Christ Has a Different Gladness, Says Pope

Reflects on Symbol of Oil in Chrism Mass

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 1, 2010 ( The gladness that comes from Christ is different than the happiness we get from entertainment. It is true happiness, and it can co-exist with suffering, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope reflected on the gladness of Christ during the chrism Mass today, in which he gave an explanation of the Christian symbolism of oil as it is used in the sacraments.

«In popular etymologies a connection was made, even in ancient times, between the Greek word ‘elaion’ — oil — and the word ‘eleos’ — mercy,» the Holy Father explained. «In fact, in the various sacraments, consecrated oil is always a sign of God’s mercy. […] In the lamp of our lives, the oil of mercy should never run dry.»

With the use of the olive branch to signal to Noah the end of the flood, the olive branch and oil have also become symbols of peace, the Pontiff continued.

He said that Christ himself «so to speak, bears the olive branch, he introduces his peace into the world. He announces God’s saving goodness. He is our peace.»

And thus, the Pope affirmed, «Christians should therefore be people of peace, people who recognize and live the mystery of the cross as a mystery of reconciliation. Christ does not conquer through the sword, but through the cross. He wins by conquering hatred. He wins through the force of his greater love.»

The Pontiff said that priests, in fellowship with Christ, are called «to be men of peace, we are called to oppose violence and to trust in the greater power of love.»


Benedict XVI drew out a further symbolism from oil: that it strengthens for battle. «This does not contradict the theme of peace, but forms part of it,» he clarified. «The battle of Christians consisted — and still consists — not in the use of violence, but in the fact that they were — and are — ready to suffer for the good, for God. […] The battle of the martyrs consists in their concrete ‘no’ to injustice. […]

«With their ‘no’ to falsehood and all its consequences, they upheld the power of right and truth. Thus they served true peace.»

Christians of today have to follow this example, the Pope affirmed, rejecting wrong, even if it is enshrined in law. He offered the example of abortion as an evil to be rejected.

«In this way we serve peace, in this way we find ourselves following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ,» he said.

Wedding song

Benedict XVI reflected on how the Fathers of the Church commented on Psalm 45 (44), interpreted as «the psalm for the marriage of the new Solomon, Jesus Christ, to his Church.»

He noted how the psalm affirms God has anointed the King with the oil of gladness.

«The Fathers had no doubt in this regard: the oil of gladness is the Holy Spirit himself, who was poured out upon Jesus Christ,» the Pontiff explained. «The Holy Spirit is the gladness that comes from God. From Jesus this gladness sweeps over us in his Gospel, in the joyful message that God knows us, that he is good and that his goodness is the power above all powers; that we are wanted and loved by him. Gladness is the fruit of love.»

This gift of Love makes us «glad to be alive,» the Holy Father affirmed. «Since we know Christ, and since in him we know God, we know that it is good to be a human being. It is good to be alive, because we are loved, because truth itself is good.»

The Holy Spirit is the oil of gladness, who «communicates himself to us as a gift from Christ. […] This gladness is different from entertainment and from the outward happiness that modern society seeks for itself. Entertainment, in its proper place, is certainly good and enjoyable. It is good to be able to laugh.

«But entertainment is not everything. It is only a small part of our lives, and when it tries to be the whole, it becomes a mask behind which despair lurks, or at least doubt over whether life is really good, or whether non-existence might perhaps be better than existence.

«The gladness that comes to us from Christ is different. It does indeed make us happy, but it can also perfectly well coexist with suffering. It gives us the capacity to suffer and, in suffering, to remain nevertheless profoundly glad. It gives us the capacity to share the suffering of others and thus by placing ourselves at one another’s disposal, to express tangibly the light and the goodness of God.»

Priests, the Bishop of Rome said, «are —  in St. Paul’s words — ‘co-workers with you for your joy.’»

He concluded with the prayer «that his gladness may pervade us ever more deeply and that we may be capable of bringing it anew to a world in such urgent need of the joy that has its source in truth.»

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