Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 6, 2003
Sacrament of the Sick blesses
Hospitalized diabetic woman returns to normal after annointing
By FR. JACQUES JOHNSON
When I was pastor of Grouard in Alberta's North, I received a call one day to bring the Sacrament of the Sick to one of my parishioners from Gift Lake, one of the missions I served. She was in the High Prairie Hospital, a fragile little woman of 96 years of age. I was in the hallway when I recognized her being pushed in a wheelchair by her daughter.
It was very quiet and private so I suggested that we pray right there and then. They agreed and I anointed the saintly old woman and offered her Holy Communion as well which she received very devoutly.
I was going to move on when the younger woman asked: "Do you remember doing that to me last year?"
No, I did not remember.
"You must remember that time you came in the room asking for me and when you saw all four beds occupied by women patients you almost left but I called you back and after you anointed me, the woman next to me asked to receive the sacrament as well."
Indeed I did remember. In fact I was slightly ill at ease entering a small room with four beds almost on top of each other, with no privacy possible. I got ahold of myself and proceeded to anoint the woman and did all the required rituals and prayers including offering her the Eucharist.
I asked the woman with her mother in the hallway if the sacrament had helped her. "It certainly did," she said. "I was diabetic and the sugar level in my blood was very high and for a week in the hospital the doctors couldn't bring the sugar level down. When they tested me a couple of hours after I received the sacraments, they discovered that everything was normal so they sent me home.
"I'm glad to say," she added, "that since then the sugar level in my blood has been normal. I've been healed of my diabetic condition."
The Sacrament of the Sick is a great blessing to the people that are afflicted by various painful conditions. It is a great gift of our compassionate Lord to God's pilgrim people.
Illness, diseases, physical accidents, mental disorders, emotional breakdowns are part of the dark side of our earthly journey as human beings. In these we experience our limitations and sometimes they even give us a glimpse of death. They can lead us to anguish, despair and revolt against God. But they can also give us pause, helping us discern what is essential in life and what is not. They can bring about a moment of conversion, a change in our heart and a return to God.
Christ was most compassionate toward the sick and the suffering. He responded to their pain by bringing about healing and deliverance from all evil influences. His miracles brought hope and faith to the people. He invited his disciples to follow him thus associating then with his own life of service and poverty.
He shared with them his ministry of mercy and healing: "So they went out and preached that all should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them" (Mark 6:12-13).
"Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils" (Matthew 10:8). These words of Jesus apply to his disciples and they apply to all of us. As members of Christ's body we are called and given the power to help people in need, starting with those under our roof.
When we were small and sick, our parents took care of us and nursed us back to health. In doing so, they became an extension of God's mercy. I believe that parent's prayer is a real ministry, an extension of the ministry of Jesus and of the apostles that we are all called to be.
Each in our own way we can make a difference and a major contribution to the health, the well being and happiness of people. Healing the sick is a call, a ministry, a concrete extension of the compassion of Jesus for the needy. It is also a privilege and a joy.
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