In today’s Gospel, Jesus sends out the Apostles in pairs to share in his ministry of preaching and healing. Called to “preach repentance,” they have no visible means of support, but God’s grace was with them as they “drove out demons and they anointed with oil many who were sick, and cured them.” This is the first of two places in the New Testament where healing occurs in relation to anointing with oil. It is also mentioned in the Letter of James. (5:13)
Today the Church continues this instruction in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. When someone is seriously ill, or is facing some surgery/procedure that is serious, we are invited to receive this sacrament of the Anointing from a priest. When someone is close to the end of their earthly life, they are also urged to receive a blessing through this sacrament. We customarily celebrate a Mass of Anointing here at St. Thomas in the spring and fall, and invite those who seek God’s healing to attend, and receive strength and courage to face the challenges that are ours. Those challenges can be physical, mental, or spiritual. Jesus can heal us of many varied ills.
Pope Francis points out in The Joy of the Gospel that the Gospel is about “loving God who reigns in our world. To the extent that he reigns within us, the life of society will be a setting for universal fraternity, justice, peace and dignity.” It is not just about doing charitable acts. He commands his followers to proclaim the Good News, to preach and heal. We today must be those faithful followers and continue to pass on the faith. Our words and actions can also heal.
I wonder...do we realize that we also are chosen by God to do his work in the world? How do we seek to make the Kingdom of God alive in our home and workplace? We are sent, too.