2014-02-26 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) At his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis spoke about the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. This Sacrament, the Pope said, “allows us to ‘touch’ God’s compassion for man.”
The Holy Father said the “profound mystery” of the Sacrament is expressed in a “biblical icon,” the parable of the Good Samaritan. “Every time we celebrated the Sacrament, the Lord Jesus, in the person of the priest, is close to the one who suffers and is gravely ill, or elderly.” When the good Samaritan tends to the victim of the robbers, the oil and wine he pours on his wounds represent the oil of the sick used in Sacrament, the love and grace of Jesus for those who are suffering. The good Samaritan then takes the man to an inn, and asks the innkeeper to care for him. The innkeeper, the Pope said, represents the Church, the Christian community, to whom, every day, Christ entrusts “those who are afflicted, whether in soul or in body, so that He can continue to bestow on them, without measure, all of His mercy and salvation.
The Pope reminded the crowds that the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick was specifically repeated in the New Testament, in the Letter of Saint James: “Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.”
But, Pope Francis said, too often people are afraid to call for the priest, because of a certain “taboo” around the whole topic of suffering and death. He encouraged Christians not to be afraid to request the Sacrament, but to remember that in the Sacrament Jesus is close to the sick and the aged.
“It is good to know that in the moment of suffering and of sickness that we are not alone,” he said. The priest, and those present for the Sacrament represent the whole Christian community, which embraces those who are suffering and their families, supporting them with their prayers and their fraternal care. But the greatest comfort comes from knowing that Jesus Himself is present in the Sacrament, and that nothing can ever separate us from Him.
Listen to Christopher Wells' report: