Mass at Saint John’s Church, Heidelberg, with anointing of the sick

Thursday 4 August 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Gospel today begins with the picture of Jesus visiting the towns and villages, proclaiming the Good News and curing all kinds of diseases and sicknesses.

Today we come to celebrate the Lord’s forgiveness and healing within the powerful context of the Mass of Anointing. We know already that the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation is the means by which our spiritual ills and sins and healed and by which we are forgiven and given the grace to persevere in our journey according to the Lord’s plan.

The teaching of the Church also gives us in the words of Saint James another powerful means of healing in addition to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It was Saint James who said: “Is anyone sick among you? Let him send for the priests of the Church and the priests will pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord and the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise him up and if he be in sins they will be forgiven him.”

The Sacrament of Anointing is a very tangible means by which a person who begins to be in danger of death through sickness or advanced age (and this does not require a medical diagnosis, but merely the frailties which accompany it) is eligible to receive this beautiful Sacrament. It is a Sacrament of healing in God’s way. My practical experience in hospitals and in parishes over nearly fifty years is that the Sacrament of Anointing gives us the knowledge that God is with us, that any cause for burden or worry or distress is removed. That is one of the effective fruits of the Sacrament; ‘the Lord will raise him up’.

Let us remember as we prepare for this Sacrament that we want to open our hearts and minds to the Lord who comes to us and really believe that he can change our lives. One person after being anointed said: “Anointing is like a resurrection, I am made completely new.”

So today we pray for those who have come to be anointed that they will see in faith that the Lord is taking hold of their life and that the anointing will be good news and freedom, knowing that every cause for worry, disturbance or burden is removed because the grace of the Lord is sufficient for us.

Let us pray that the Lord will raise up those who receive this Sacrament with faith and enable them to go forward in trust.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.
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