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Chapter 19. Anointing the Sick and the Dying • 259

“You set a table before me. / . . . You anoint my head with oil; my

cup overflows” (v. 5). In some pastures there is so much rough herbage

that the shepherd must harvest the edible grasses and place these on

table-like stones from which the sheep may dine. Jesus himself is the

Bread of Life who comes to his friends in pain. Communion for the sick

is one of Christ’s most consoling gifts. When the sheep have wounds

caused by thorns, the shepherd anoints them with oil. When they have a

fever, the shepherd bathes their heads in cool water. With holy oil Jesus

anoints the sick.

“I will dwell in the house of the Lord / for years to come” (v. 6).

The shepherd knows the sheep need him to guard their home. Jesus says

he is the gate of the sheepfold (the enclosure where they live). In biblical

times the shepherd served as the gate to the sheepfold. He was the living

gate, guarding them with his body. To enter the community of Christ the

beloved, both the sick and the healthy must enter through his body that

will guard them. People in suffering and pain are disposed to the faith

that sees these truths. Christ is their guardian.


Lord Jesus Christ, you chose to share our human nature,

to redeem all people, and to heal the sick.

Look with compassion upon your servants whom we have

anointed in your name with this holy oil for the healing of

their body and spirit.

Support them with your power, comfort them with

your protection,

and give them the strength to fight against evil.

Since you have given them a share in your own passion,

help them to find hope in suffering,

for you are Lord for ever and ever. Amen.


Pastoral Care of the Sick

[I was] ill and you cared for me.

—Mt 25:36