Monday, June 20, 2011
Mondays with Verbum Domini
The word of God, Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick
Though the Eucharist certainly remains central to the relationship between God’s word and the sacraments, we must also stress the importance of sacred Scripture in the other sacraments, especially the sacraments of healing, namely the sacrament of Reconciliation or Penance, and the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. The role of sacred Scripture in these sacraments is often overlooked, yet it needs to be assured its proper place. We ought never to forget that “the word of God is a word of reconciliation, for in it God has reconciled all things to himself (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-20; Eph 1:10). The loving forgiveness of God, made flesh in Jesus, raises up the sinner”. “Through the word of God the Christian receives light to recognize his sins and is called to conversion and to confidence in God’s mercy”. To have a deeper experience of the reconciling power of God’s word, the individual penitent should be encouraged to prepare for confession by meditating on a suitable text of sacred Scripture and to begin confession by reading or listening to a biblical exhortation such as those provided in the rite. When expressing contrition it would be good if the penitent were to use “a prayer based on the words of Scripture”, such as those indicated in the rite. When possible, it would be good that at particular times of the year, or whenever the opportunity presents itself, individual confession by a number of penitents should take place within penitential celebrations as provided for by the ritual, with due respect for the different liturgical traditions; here greater time can be devoted to the celebration of the word through the use of suitable readings.
In the case of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick too, it must not be forgotten that “the healing power of the word of God is a constant call to the listener’s personal conversion”. Sacred Scripture contains countless pages which speak of the consolation, support and healing which God brings. We can think particularly of Jesus’ own closeness to those who suffer, and how he, God’s incarnate Word, shouldered our pain and suffered out of love for us, thus giving meaning to sickness and death. It is good that in parishes and in hospitals, according to circumstances, community celebrations of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick should be held. On these occasions greater space should be given to the celebration of the word, and the sick helped to endure their sufferings in faith, in union with the redemptive sacrifice of Christ who delivers us from evil.
-Verbum Domini 61