World Day of the Sick with the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick
February 12, 2024
Isaiah 61:1-3; James 5:13-16; Matthew 10:5-13 

 What a special gathering this is in our cathedral today – a moment of prayer that has the power to touch our lives profoundly.  …  And why?  …  Because Jesus is among us.  …  And your very presence here today reflects the great message of the scriptures that teach us so powerfully of the how God works in our world and how he responds to us in our pain and suffering. 

Consider with me this moment of prayer.  …  Some of you are here today because you join us every day for the noon time mass in our Cathedral.  …  Many of you are here because of what we celebrate with our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and Catholics from around the world – the World Day of the Sick – a day on which we offer special prayers for those who are burdened physically or emotionally with diminished health and also a day when we pray for those who serve and care for the sick.  …  And all of us, in gathering for this Mass, are called to a deeper understanding and expression of our faith through our encounter with God.

 Today’s gospel passage from Saint Matthew finds Jesus commissioning the twelve apostles and sending them forth to proclaim the good news of salvation.  “As you go,” Jesus instructed, “make this proclamation:  ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.  Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.  Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.’”

This well-known gospel passage becomes a barometer of sorts for the health of a Christian.  Jesus quite directly instructs his disciples to give generously, using his own life and experience of the cross as a gauge for their own lives of service. 

So, whether we ourselves are burdened with sickness or we find ourselves as care givers to those who suffer, as Pope Francis has reminded us, “each of us is poor, needy and destitute.  When we are born, we require the care of our parents to survive, and at every stage of life we remain in some way dependent on the help of others.  …  A frank acknowledgment of this truth,” he states, “keeps us humble and spurs us to practice solidarity with one another as an essential virtue in life.  …  We should not fear, then to acknowledge these limitations … for in so doing, God comes to our aid and grants us gifts beyond our imagining.”

As such, both those of us who provide for the sick as well as those of us who receive their generous care are all in a position to fulfill the gospel mandate to give generously from what they have received.   Why?  Because at the heart of all that Jesus has called us to embrace as his followers is that we reflect his life in our own.  …  Whether we are sick and touch others by our willingness to endure suffering with dignity and faith – or – we are those who spend time with the sick and care for them in their needs, in going outside of ourselves through our faithful example and loving service, we give life to the words of Jesus, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”  

My sisters and brothers, through Jesus’ example of selfless love, we find the pattern for our life’s journey.  …  Through his cross and resurrection we discover the path to salvation.  …  And through the wonderful Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, every one of us who approaches it with faith and hope are promised a share in Jesus’ healing love.  …  Some of us may experience a physical healing.  …  All of us will encounter the Lord Jesus who promises to touch our spirits and give us peace.