The Fathers of the Church were fascinated by a phrase from Psalm 45 (44) – traditionally held to be Solomon’s wedding psalm – which was reinterpreted by Christians as the psalm for the marriage of the new Solomon, Jesus Christ, to his Church.

To the King, Christ, it is said: “Your love is for justice; your hatred for evil. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above other kings” (v. 8).

What is this oil of gladness with which the true king, Christ, was anointed?

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 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. The oil of gladness, which was poured out over Christ and comes to us from him, is the Holy Spirit, the gift of Love who makes us glad to be alive.

Since we know Christ, and since in him we know the true 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.

In the early Church, the consecrated oil was considered a special sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit, who communicates himself to us as a gift from Christ. He is the oil of gladness.

[…]  The gladness that comes to us from Christ…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.

Benedict XVI (b. 1927): Homily at Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday, 2010.

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