Chapter 19. Anointing the Sick and the Dying • 251
CHRIST’S COMPASSION FOR THE SICK
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