29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
Psalm 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10 (7b)
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b
October 18, 2020
We gather on this 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today is also October 18th. This is the feast of St. Luke, the patron saint of our parish. We should pray regularly for his intercession for the needs of our parish but especially on his feast day.
In writing to the Colossians, Paul identifies Luke as a physician. So, St. Luke is the patron saint of physicians. It is at this time of year that we normally offer a special Mass with the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
With Coronavirus precautions in place, we are not offering that Mass to avoid multiple physical contacts. Let me assure you that we continue to offer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to individuals who ask for it outside of Mass. We are simply not doing it in a group setting.
Yet, we still want to do something as a community to offer prayers for healing. In recent weeks in our bulletin, we invited prayers of healing. As we celebrate Mass today, we hold these prayers in our hearts.
The Anointing of the Sick is offered for those facing serious physical illness. The oil is a sign of strengthening. It is God bestowing grace upon the person. In thirteen years of priesthood, I have not seen an immediate physical healing of a person when I anoint them. What I have experienced is them telling me how they feel a sense of peace come upon them as they are anointed.
Healing is something more than just physical. We certainly pray for physical healing but we are also pray for healing of our sins, including receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We also need to pray for healing of societal rift. We pray for healing in broken relationships and for those facing difficult situations.
In praying for healing we ask for the grace we need for “endurance in hope” knowing that God is with us.
Even our prayers for physical healing go beyond just asking for immediate physical healing. For instance, we pray for those who are sick with the Coronavirus. We also pray for those under stress because of the virus. We pray for cures, vaccines, and for our public and church leaders to make wise choices during this pandemic.
We pray for all involved, even if they do not believe in the one true God. God can work through anyone.
We see this in today’s first reading. God is speaking “to his anointed, Cyrus.” Cyrus is called “anointed,” which literally means “chosen.” God had chosen Cyrus to set the Israelites free from the Babylonian Exile.
It is important to know that Cyrus is not an Israelite. He believes in a false pagan god but God still chooses to work through him, “subduing nations before him, and making kings run in his service.” God chooses to do this “for the sake of Jacob” his servant.
Though Cyrus knew him not, God chose to call Cyrus to lead his people from Exile. God brought healing to his people from the Exile. Many had been taken from their land. The temple had been destroyed. God brought restoration (healing) to Israel.
Even today, God works through believers and non-believers. For example, God works through people in the medical profession who do not know him to bring healing. We pray for all of them.
In Jesus’ time on earth, there were those who opposed him. He still offered them salvation. Even when they tried to entrap them, He used them to provide teaching moments for us. He knew their malice but He still sought to help them.
While they professed, as Israelites, to believe in the one true God, they closed their hearts to Jesus. Do we close some part of our life off to Jesus?
We ask God to heal us from being closed off.
We ask him to heal the brokenness of our society.
We ask him to heal our broken relationships, to help us let go of the hurt.
Knowing of God’s healing, let us “Give the Lord glory and honor.” We thank him for the healing He brings, most especially the healing of our souls, leading us to salvation.