I can’t count the number of times over the years I’ve been watching a movie or tv show and a priest is called in to give the “last rites.” I still get calls from hospitals asking me to come for the “last rites.” Still, even though the sacrament was restored to its original purpose almost 50 years ago. Even though it’s been officially called the Anointing of the Sick for that long. It has always been a sacrament of healing and peace for serious illness. Sometimes it is given to a person near death. Others it is given to a person preparing for surgery. Or homebound with the frailty of age.
This weekend, as we hear the gospel passage from Mark of Jesus’ healing of a deaf person, we offer the sacrament during mass to all who are dealing with serious illness of body or mind. In the gospels Jesus’ healings are a sign of the coming of God’s kingdom. In His sacramental presence may He bring the healing of peace to those among us who struggle with illness.
Here is a link to the US Bishop’s handout Joined to Christ, Witnesses of Hope and Healing on the Sacrament of the Anointing.