Jesus in the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick
SAY YES TO THE GIFTS OF LIFE GOD OFFERS
At a Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral with particular focus on healing prayer and the Anointing of the Sick, Archbishop Costelloe spoke of how St Augustine’s famous words ‘You have made us for yourself O God and our hearts are restless until they rest in you’ helped him to understand the yearnings within for a “deeper sense of purpose and of peace” and guided him through “moments of confusion, doubt and fear”.
The Archbishop hoped these same words would “bring comfort to those… suffering in any way” and “battling with serious ill health”.
“In our times of crisis, of loneliness, of pain and ill health”, he exclaimed, Jesus says to us “do not be afraid, have courage, for I am with you”.
When suffering and illness beset our lives, he said, “we might be tempted to think that God is punishing us, has withdrawn his love from us, has deserted us completely or that we no longer matter to him”. This, stated the Archbishop, is when “faith” can be understood to mean “trust”.
Jesus had to live by trust, he said. “For him it was not always easy” as he experienced the “seeming absence of God in his life” when he most needed his Father’s love and support, as he experienced “all the pain and the sense of abandonment which so many people feel in moments of great crisis”.
“At the deepest level, this did not destroy his trust in God but only led him to call on it more completely.”
We too, the Archbishop went on to say, must “entrust ourselves in hope to God believing that no matter what comes we are being held in his loving care”.
Such faith, he reminded people, is a gift from God. “We must ask him to do this for us and allow him to work within us,” he stated. “God never forces himself upon us, but equally God never walks away from us.”
Allowing God to mould and shape our hearts is a “difficult and challenging experience” said the Archbishop. God “prunes the vine” to “cut away” those things within us which block “God’s love and his presence”. “We have to let go of so much” to receive the peace the Lord gives.
He went on to say that the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is a “privileged way for us to open ourselves to this deep peace and hope which God wishes to give us” which can come through “physical or emotional healing” or from a “deep spiritual awakening”, happening “spectacularly or very quietly and in a hidden way”.
“God is always true to his promises,” affirmed Archbishop Costelloe. “The Sacrament of Anointing, for those who are seriously ill, will bring the healing and the hope that we most need, even if this is not clear to us.
The Archbishop ended by inviting those present to “hold out our hands, open our hearts and say “yes” to the gifts of life he offers us”.