Anointing the Sick as Prophets

Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (James 5:14-15)

Fr. Richard Fragomeni in his wonderful little book, Come to the Feast, makes a deeply profound comment on the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick (emphasis added):

[There is] a deeper meaning of the Sacrament of the Sick. I don’t think the Sacrament of the Sick is just something we do to sick people. We don’t anoint the sick because we want to do something nice for them, even to heal them. I think the sacrament celebrates sickness as a place of revelation of our need and God’s gift. We see in the sick and suffering a witness to their ability to see the overwhelming gift of God in the absence of the usual support. They plunge into suffering and come up with new insights into who God is and what life is about, and they emerge more grateful for life. That’s the paradox. We anoint them because they are prophets. Anointing the sick is a prophetic anointing. We anoint the sick as if they were Christ on the cross. They are to be a sign for the church that even when they are in the desert with only stones to eat, they are grateful, they know a presence of God in an absence. When you see that, you know it.

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