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Anointing of the Sick Mass

Welcome to this “Healing Weekend.” Well, every weekend is healing in relaxing the body, mind and spirit and then enlivening the mind, body, and spirit at Mass. This weekend, we honor and offer the beautiful sacrament of the sick. As I wrote in the bulletin, it is no longer called “Last Rites.” It changed over fifty years ago. So please say “sacrament of the sick” or, better yet, say the “sacrament of healing,” unless you also say, “Wait for the TV to warm up” or “The milkman is here!”

This is not the kind of healing you’d experienced in a tent revival and falling to the floor. This kind of healing recognizes the presence of God during whatever trouble affects your body, mind, or spirit. We may treat and deal with each of them independently, but are they really that different? Fr. Joe and I attended the priest assembly earlier this month, affectionately called the “priest’s pajama party.” The speaker was outstanding. One of her takeaway sentences was, “The body shouts what the heart whispers.” No matter your age, but especially as we age, that sentence shows the combined living life of body, mind, and spirit.“The body shouts what the heart whispers.”

The temple in the second reading describes it not as a set place but as an enveloping presence. It’s spaceless. It’s the temple that lives within us and to everyone dedicated to God’s caring concern. In union with the whole Catholic Church throughout the world, the representative priest places timeless Holy Oil upon timed bodies promising a timeless eternity. (And, it didn’t take me much time to write that sentence.)

My best current analogy is the price of gas. Within artificial boundaries, yet divinely spaceless, instead of my usual $30.00 for a full tank, the Ukraine war cost me $50.00 last week for my silly car.  On a happier note, no Russian can now buy those “‘Happy Meals” as Mcdonald's closed all of their 850 restaurants. Humanity may feel bounded, but humanity's temple lives within a universal space, without space.

The beauty of this sacrament is calling upon the presence of the Holy Spirit. Talk about a person without space or perimeters; it is she who blesses and prompts you to carry on, as best you can, but now reminding you of her presence so that you can continue to remember. And, our Mass is always about renewing and remembering.

In the priest’s prayer after the Offertory, on your behalf, these words can be said so quickly that we often miss them. Like a soft evening rain, the prayer declares that God sends forth the Holy Spirit to make the bread that we baked, become for us the bread of new life - Jesus Christ. The irony here, correctly used, is reciprocated. The life that God created, you and me, we offer back to God through the life of Jesus Christ.

Jesus promises us the Advocate in the Gospel. She is alive and living among and within us here with life-giving bread. In this “church on the hill,” and she resides at Pick ’n Save. The one I’m not so sure of is the grocery store with the slogan, “Shop the Pig.” Now does that sound like the Holy Spirit!?

If you are not receiving the sacrament today, then, like the universal church, please say a prayer for each person coming forward. As members of the Body of Christ, we know no perimeters when it comes to combining those three powerful words; you may know their reasons, or you may not. Your presence and prayers today strengthens the reception of this beautiful Catholic sacrament. 

The first reading about circumcision? I leave that one to you.