Pastoral Thought

May 19, 2019


Today we anoint the sick and all weakened by age or mental or physical debility. When you place your hand upon the person being anointed you signify that ‘yes, we re members of the Body of Christ and we bear one another's’ burdens.’ We are also participating in the mystery of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection which redeemed us.

            The anointing consecrates human suffering to be redemptive in union with Jesus’ suffering. We do not seek suffering, and we ask God to be spared suffering, but by God’s love we can face suffering when it comes. One cause of suffering is the frailty of our physical self. Yet it is glorious to be a living, loving, active, creative human being. Would we say that because suffering is humanely unavoidable, life is tragic or not worth living? No. That would be unworthy, anti-human.

            The other cause of suffering is separation from God, i.e., sin. To sin is to cause suffering, because sin destroys part of our human fabric. The pain of it, in body, mind and soul, may affect someone else. Persons who deliberately harm others or defy God sometimes do not experience the suffering they cause. Sometimes they feel no guilt. But the suffering caused by sin can lead to redemption from sin, if it is offered to God in union with Jesus’. The sufferings of good people, offered for others, can bring the sinner to remorse and repentance.

            I don’t believe that any evil done by humans can be left unatoned. Jesus came to redeem all ultimately through his suffering. In the mystery of suffering is hidden the path to redemption. Out of the worst, God brings the best.

Father John Hynes