The sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Reconciliation were all given to us by Jesus Christ in order to renew us and strengthen us in God’s love. But let’s consider the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. In the past, this sacrament was known as “extreme unction” and was generally given in the proximity of death, but the Church in her wisdom and guided by the Holy Spirit who “leads us to the fullness of truth”, teaches us that we can receive this sacrament more than once and that it can be administered, not only in extreme moments but also in the case of serious illness, or before a serious operation.
The anointing of the sick is a sacrament which has the principle effect of healing and preparing our soul for our definitive encounter with Christ in Heaven, but it also can have the effect of healing our bodies if it is God’s will. Often times the former is what is needed so that the latter can be obtained. Sooner or later we will go to meet our maker and our bodies will lie in death. All the medicine and all the technology in the world cannot stop the inevitable. Our life is a gift from God and one that we need to live in harmony with his holy will, in order to have peace in our souls and truly be in “good health”. God, in this sacrament, wants us to be aware of his presence with us in the midst of our suffering, both spiritually and physically. When Jesus died on the cross for us, he experienced human suffering in its greatest depths and in this way associated himself with all those who suffer to such a degree that no one can say: “God does not understand what I am going through” or “God has abandoned me”.
Jesus took our suffering upon himself so as to redeem us through it and to give it a redemptive meaning. When we unite our suffering to His, He makes it his own and offers it to the Father for the salvation of souls. In this way we make up in ourselves, what is lacking in the suffering of Christ, as St. Paul says in his letters, meaning that as the body of Christ, we are united to his perfect gift of love to the Father on the cross. Christ allows us to share with him in this gift.