Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy?
Let them sing songs of praise.
Is anyone among you sick?
Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well;
the Lord will raise them up.
If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other
so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
I have witnessed the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick several times and have received the Sacrament myself. But it was only the other day, when we visited our friend Romy that I paid close attention to the reading. I realized how consoling and reassuring the words are. It brought home to me that death is a communal event. It can be the occasion of great hope and joy just like the birth of a child.
It is the source of great comfort and consolation both to the sick and to their loved ones. We always hope for healing for we do not know when we will finally die. But since death is an inevitable reality for all of us, it makes a lot of difference how we see and approach death. There are those who death as the end. Nothing else follows. We just banish from the scene and the dust of which we are made of returns to the dust whence it came. But the Christian view of death is that vita mutatur, non tollitur (life is changed, not taken away). Our Filipino view of death is very much like the Christian one. When a loved one dies we say sumakabilang buhay (he went to other side of life). In contemporary parlance, we level up when we die.
Fr. Lambert who administered the Sacrament to Romy was very inspiring and encouraging with his words. And they came across with even deeper meaning when associated with the words, the gestures and the signs that he used: anointing with oil, laying of hands, making the sign of the cross on the senses, and the communal prayer. Somehow, death ceases to be a terrifying end. Instead it becomes an exciting transition to the next level of one’s life.