Faith and Medicine
By Fr. Alex Radulescu - “My son, when you are sick do not be negligent, but pray to the Lord, and he will heal you… And give the physician his place, for the Lord created him; let him not leave you, for there is need of him.” (Sirach 38: 9,12)
The words of the Scripture are very clear about the role of medicine and doctors in our life. Among all the talents God has given to humanity, medicine has played a very important role in the welfare of our body. Actually, we have a duty to protect our entire being, both body and soul. Our life is a gift from God. By protecting life and the welfare of every individual, we honor God, who created all.
St. Paul said: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own” (1 Cor. 16:9). That last part “you are not your own” tells us that both body and soul are a gift from our Creator, and we ought to preserve them with great honor. Unfortunately, our sin has corrupted this gift from God. We all see its consequences: inclination towards evil, injustice, suffering, natural disasters, wars, sickness, and even death.
We see how both body and soul need healing. That is why faith and medicine are complimentary to one another. Medicine, like every other human science, can be inspired by God for the benefit of humanity, but it does not provide an answer to all the dilemmas of our human body. Faith, on the other hand, provides us with the hope that God is the healer of all, and He alone has the power to save us from sin and its consequences. On many occasions during His ministry, Christ healed people who put their trust in Him and asked for His mercy.
Tonight, the Church has prepared a special service to deal with the reality of sin and its consequences. It is called “The Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Unction.” This service can be offered throughout the year for the benefit of the community, even if we celebrate it more specifically on Wednesday of Holy Week.
This sacrament is of ancient origin and is using oil as an agent of God’s grace. During the service, the priests pray over the oil and ask for the Holy Spirit to sanctify it just as they do for the water at Baptism or other sacraments. Then, the priests anoint all the people with this holy oil.
In the Scripture, oil has a deeper significance as it is the product of an olive tree. If you recall, when Noah was sailing the seas, he sent a dove to look for dry land. After a few attempts, it returned with an olive branch in its beak. That branch of the olive tree became the symbol of God’s reconciliation with humanity, a symbol of peace between God and His people.
Brothers and sisters, these days, more than ever before, have put the spotlight on our medical workers and their continuous attempts to find a cure for the COVID-19 virus. Also, more than ever before, we are reminded of our human limitations and how important it is to ask for God’s forgiveness of our sins and His mercy in dealing with this pandemic. We need God to strengthen both our faith in Him and also illumine us in order to find a cure.
In light of this reality, allow me to ask of you two things, please:
Join us tonight at 6:00 PM to pray for healing and to receive God’s mercy. Thank you!