efe-epaVatican City

The Pope called on bishops to identify with those of faith within their communities as well as to show compassion with their own hands when smearing with chrism the foreheads of those they anointed, the pontiff said during his homily at the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

The chrism mass on Maundy Thursday marks the beginning of Holy Week.

It is considered one of the most important liturgies of the Christian calendar.

During the chrism mass, all priests attend their diocese's mass and collect a holy oil and balsam mixture that is blessed by the Bishop of the diocese.

The vials of holy ointments taken back to their churches for use for anointment in baptisms and confirmations.

During the ceremony, bishops were asked to renew their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience which they made on the day of their ordination.

"I confess to you that whenever I confirm and ordain, I like to smear with chrism the foreheads and the hands of those I anoint. In that generous anointing, we can sense that our own anointing is being renewed," the pontiff said.

"I would say this: We are not distributors of bottled oil. We anoint by distributing ourselves, distributing our vocation and our heart," he continued.

"When we anoint others, we ourselves are anointed anew by the faith and the affection of our people. We anoint by dirtying our hands in touching the wounds, the sins and the worries of the people," the pope added. "We anoint by perfuming our hands in touching their faith, their hopes, their fidelity and the unconditional generosity of their self-giving."

The Pope reminded the congregation that the Lord never lost direct contact with the people.

"Amid those crowds, he always kept the grace of closeness with the people as a whole, and with each individual," the pope said.

He went on to reflect on three graces that define the relationship between " the crowd" and Jesus: the grace of following, the grace of amazement and the grace of discernment.

"As for us, dear brother priests, we must not forget that our evangelical models are those 'people', the 'crowd' with its real faces, which the anointing of the Lord raises up and revives," the Argentine pontiff added.EFE-EPA