Last year I was asked to anoint a dying woman at the Hospice. She was unconscious.
We had just come out of a long period of lockdown. The woman's two daughters were
sitting on the bed very much engaged with what was happening for their mother, holding her
hand and praying for her.
I always find the sacrament of anointing a moving and tangible sign of Christ's healing
and consoling presence for the person being anointed but also for family members present.
I share this story because the Gospel today taken form Mark 6:7-13 has the disciples commissioned by Jesus going out teaching, preaching, casting out devils and anointing many sick people with oil. He told them to travel lightly and to be prepared for both welcome and rejection. And so they set out and brought healing to many people. They experienced Christ with them.
As a priest, I was invited and welcomed into the room of a dying woman to anoint her. She could not speak for herself but her daughters could speak on her behalf. They anointed their mother with tears and love as the holy oil was signed on her forehead and hands. We encountered Christ with us.
Christ invites each of us to go out to anoint people with the oil of our lives and faith. Sometimes we will be welcomed and sometimes rejected just as he was. He promises to be with us.
Listen to 'Without Words' track 10 from 'Light in the Lockdown' inspired by the dying woman and her daughters.