The Malta Independent 17 November 2018, Saturday

On being Christ’s aroma

Sunday, 22 July 2018, 07:50 Last update: about 5 months ago

Recently, I was gifted with a little bottle of blessed oil brought from an orthodox monastery in Greece. The aroma of this blessed oil is powerful, profound and, yes, mystical.

Obviously, when I say mystical, I am not talking about esotericism. The joint document, entitled "Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of life: A Christian reflection on the 'New Age'" issued by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for interreligious Dialogue,  describes it as "a search for knowledge, and magic, or the occult". On the contrary, what is mystical is revealed because it is not the theoretical knowledge for the chosen few but holiness as the everyday bread and butter for every person. As Jesus himself tells us: "Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven "(Matt 5:19). Therefore, Christian mysticism is about being great and not being small. It is about being authentic and not fake by placing oneself above others.

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The bible teaching which tells us that you and me, thanks to Jesus' Spirit in us that we received both at our baptism and at our confirmation, lives in us, is found in Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians. Here Paul says: "But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?" (2 Cor 2:14-16).

Both Jesus Christ and Satan have their aroma. The aroma of Jesus Christ is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal 5:22-23). Moreover, the Bible tells us that Christ's aroma is also compassion, "kindness, lowliness, meekness, ... patience, ... forgive[ness], ... perfect harmony,... love,... thankful[ness], teach[ing], admonish[ing] one another,... do[ing] everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, [and] giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Col 3:12-17).

Almost every person I anoint and pray over with this blessed oil tells me: "Father! What a nice smell this oil has!" You are hundred per cent right my dear brother and sister! Because, if you and I carry within our hearts love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, patience, forgiveness, perfect harmony, thankfulness, teaching, admonishing one another gently, doing everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and giving thanks to God the Father through Him we certainly smell beautiful. The reason is that it is no longer our weak smell of sin that we carry in our hearts but Christ's fragrance. And, when you and I let God's Spirit live in us and cultivate within us these holy and beloved attitudes then Jesus can look at us and say to us personally: "How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice" (Cant 4:10).

Yes! The fragrance of our oils, the oil of the Holy Spirit, is much more powerful than the spice of this world of sin and death. That is why Satan's aroma is so horrible! It stinks to death! The Bible describes Satan's aroma as being "fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like" (Gal 5:19-21). Because Satan's aroma is eternally destructive, the Bible lovingly warns us to keep away from it: "those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal 5:21).  

When you meet me, especially at Mater Dei as I visit patients, their families, hospital staff and going round the hospital following the example of the Merciful Shepherd, remind me to anoint you with this aromatic oil, place my consecrated hands on you and pray that you too be transformed by Christ's aroma.

 

Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap

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