I had a teacher in elementary school who pointed out to us that the Crisco Oil products that most of our parents would have had in the kitchen cupboard is related to Jesus. The word “crisco” comes from same the Latin root word as “Christ.” And the word “christ” simply means, “the anointed one.” By the way, the word “messiah” is the Greek word that also means, “the anointed one.” And anointing uses oil, thus the product name for Crisco Oil. This seems like an unusual lesson to be learning in elementary school, but there you go…
Traditionally, to indicate that someone was being made king of Israel a great vat of oil would be poured over their head. Usually, olive oil. Oil was used in other ways too. It was used in cooking; as a cleanser; as a perfume; as a coolant; as a fuel and; in ritual.
Jesus of Nazareth is entitled by his followers as the Christ, as Messiah, as the anointed one of God because they believed (and we believe) that, as God’s Son, he is the true leader (the true king) of the world and of our lives. We can use oil in our service of baptism because we hope to emphasise our kinship with Jesus, that as Christians we hope to be as Christ-like as possible.
In Psalm 23 it says, while celebrating the abundance of God, “you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over.” Still, in the Church today, we use oil as a symbolic acknowledgement of the presence of Jesus in our lives and of our kinship with him. Holy oil is commonly used in baptism, ordination and healing.
Holy oil can be used in ritual as a way to renew our commitment to Jesus Christ; he is, after all, the Crisco Kid, the Christ, and the Son of God. By renewing our commitment to the Kid, we renew our commitment to God’s people, the Church and all of creation.