About this time of the year, one always hears something in the media about the increase of “seasonal depression”. We are not getting much sun (winter always seems to have many cloudy days), the days are short, Christmas season is over; all this together can produce the “blahs” in many people. And nearly a year of the Wuhan Virus doesn’t help! And so, when you read the passage from Job that is our first reading for today’s Mass, a lot of people think to themselves: “I know what he’s talking about!” You don’t have to be a psychologist to know that sometimes life can seem difficult. And if one is physically ill, that can really make it a burden; that’s why the many Gospel accounts of Jesus healing the sick (like in today’s Gospel) are soothing to our ears and consoling to our hearts. And not only that, but the Lord has left this gift of healing with His Church in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Now, not everyone who is anointed is healed physically (although it does happen sometimes). The major benefit of the anointing is the healing and strengthening of one’s spirit. Although we still celebrate this sacrament in extremis, (that is, when one is close to death), the Anointing of the Sick should be received whenever one is preparing for surgery, has already become seriously ill, or is weakened by advanced age. It is most appropriate to celebrate this sacrament with family and/or friends present, so that we may more beautifully express our solidarity in the Faith. I recommend that, if possible, a time for the Anointing of the Sick be arranged with several days’ notice to allow others to be present. I have often celebrated the Sacrament of Anointing immediately following a weekday Mass for persons scheduled for surgery later that day, or in the following days. Now of course, we don’t seek the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick every time we get a cold; but neither should we be hesitant in desiring this great gift of the Lord’s healing touch when we are in true need. What a beautiful gift the Lord has left us to experience His healing Grace!
May God bless you!