The Church sees the life of the believer, ഒരർത്ഥത്തിൽ, as one’s own personal journey through the wilderness towards the “Promised Land” of eternal life in the Father’s Kingdom.
Just as the ancient Israelites were aided in their passage through the wilderness with manna and water from the rock, so are Christians upheld on their journey by the grace they receive through the Sacraments (see Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 10:1).
The Sacraments are the means God has established to cleanse, ഫീഡ്, heal, and care for His children of the New Covenant. The Lord has provided for each step of our spiritual journey: the commencement of the journey in Baptism; our nourishment and strengthening in the Eucharist and Confirmation; our restoration when we fall in Confession and in a special way in the Anointing of the Sick, which is often also a final preparation before crossing over the threshold of death to be received into the Father’s embrace.1
The Sacraments are signs which convey the grace they symbolize. The sacramental concept is found throughout the Bible, but nowhere more profoundly than in the healing ministry of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Consider the Gospel story of the man born blind in which clay, a physical object, becomes a channel for the transmission of God’s grace (ജോൺ 9:6). On another occasion, a woman with a hemorrhage is cured by touching the Savior’s garments—that is, God’s power is transferred through the material of Jesus’ clothing (കാണാൻ മർക്കോസ് 5:25 പുറങ്ങൾ.).
ബൈബിളിൽ, sacred oil is used in ritual healings. We see this in the ministry of the Apostles, who “cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them” (മർക്കോസ് 6:13). The practice of anointing the sick was an official rite of the Apostolic Church, as the Apostle James revealed writing:
ഏതെങ്കിലും നിങ്ങളിൽ ദീനമായി ഉണ്ടോ? സഭയിലെ മൂപ്പന്മാരെ വിളിക്കാം, അവരെ അവനെ പ്രാർത്ഥിക്കട്ടെ, കർത്താവിന്റെ നാമത്തിൽ അവനെ എണ്ണ പൂശി; എന്നാൽ വിശ്വാസത്തോടുകൂടിയ പ്രാർത്ഥന രോഗി രക്ഷിക്കും, കർത്താവു അവനെ എഴുന്നേല്പിക്കും; അവൻ പാപം ചെയ്തിട്ടുണ്ടെങ്കിൽ, അവനോടു ക്ഷമിക്കും. അതുകൊണ്ടു തമ്മിൽ പാപങ്ങളെ ഏറ്റുപറഞ്ഞു, അന്യോന്യം പ്രാർത്ഥിക്കുന്നു, നിങ്ങൾ രോഗശാന്തി വരേണ്ടതിന്നു (Jas. 5:14-16).
This passage echoes the counsel of Sirach, "എന്റെ മകൻ, when you are sick do not be negligent, എന്നാൽ കർത്താവിനോടു പ്രാർഥിക്കുകയും, and he will heal you. Give up your faults and direct your hands aright, and cleanse your heart from all sin” (38:9-10).
The healing of the body and soul are often interrelated, though the latter is considered to be the greater work. Jesus inquired of His critics:
“Which is easier, പറയാൻ, ‘Your sins are forgiven,'പറയുന്നതോ, ‘Rise and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins … Rise, take up your bed and go home.” (മത്തായി 9:5-6)
In the Anointing of the Sick, a physical healing often accompanies the spiritual healing, though the spiritual healing is the true focus of the rite.2 ആകസ്മികമായി, the Apostles’ acts of anointing in മർക്കോസ് 6:13 are prefaced by preaching on repentance from sin (6:12). അതുപോലെതന്നെ, ൽ ജെയിംസ് 5 the emphasis shifts from a bodily to a spiritual cure, the references to “the sick man” being “saved” and “healed” implying the sinner receiving forgiveness.
The witness to the Anointing of the Sick in the earliest historical Christian writings is sparse by comparison to the other Sacraments, though it is implied in the penitential practices of the Church, especially in her reliance upon the clergy for the forgiveness of sins.
വർഷം ഏകദേശം ൽ 150, Saint Justin the Martyr affirmed that the presbyters, who presided over the Eucharistic celebration, had among their many duties the care of the sick (ആദ്യം മാപ്പ് 67). ഏകദേശം ൽ 215, acknowledging the power of the bishop to forgive sins, Saint Hippolytus of Rome revealed that the oil blessed by the bishop would “give strength to all that taste of it and health to all that use it” (അപ്പസ്തോലിക പാരമ്പര്യം 5:2). The Council of Nicaea in 325 decreed the Viaticum should not be refused the dying (കാനൺ 13).
- The concept of a spiritual journey is contained in the Latin term viaticum or “food for the journey,” which refers to the Eucharist received during the Last Rites. ↩
- ദി കത്തോലിക്കാ സഭയുടെ മതബോധനഗ്രന്ഥം സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങൾ, “Over the centuries the Anointing of the Sick was conferred more and more exclusively on those at the point of death. Because of this it received the name ‘Extreme Unction.’ Notwithstanding this evolution the liturgy has never failed to beg the Lord that the sick person may recover his health if it would be conducive to his salvation” (par. 1512). ↩