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Chapter 19. Anointing the Sick and the Dying • 251


Christ’s compassion toward the sick and his healings of

almost every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that

“God has visited his people.”

—CCC, no. 1503, citing Lk 7:16

Jesus came to heal the whole person, body and soul. Mark’s Gospel,

chapter 2:1-12, relates the following event that illustrates this teaching.

Jesus was in a house in Capernaum teaching an overflow crowd. The

house was probably a stone dwelling whose walls were coated with plas-

ter. The rooms surrounded an inner courtyard. A roof of reeds and sticks

packed with thick clay would have kept out the rain. Opening a hole in

the roof would have been relatively easy. Since they could not enter by

the door because of the crowd, four men, carrying a paralytic, climbed

the stairway that led to the roof. They opened a hole in it and lowered

their friend into the area where Jesus was preaching.

Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven” (Mk 2:5).

Scripture makes no comment on the man’s reaction. But into that spiri-

tual moment a discordant note emerged. Some religious scholars in

the group complained inwardly that Jesus was blasphemous because,

according to them, only God could forgive sins. Jesus, knowing their

thoughts, challenged them: “Which is easier to say to the paralytic, ‘Your

sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that

you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on

earth”—he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat,

and go home” (Mk 2:9-11). The man rose and went home. The people

glorified God for Christ’s healing of soul and body.

The Gospels narrate many other occasions when Jesus healed the

sick. While Jesus sometimes simply spoke some words to accomplish a

healing, he often touched the afflicted person to bring about the cure.

In the Church’s Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, through the

ministry of the priest, it is Jesus who touches the sick to heal them from

sin—and sometimes even from physical ailment. His cures were signs of