The Ministry of Hope (Anointing of the Sick Mass for Advent)

12.9.17  Sat. Advent – wk. 1 – (II)

Sacrament of the  Anointing of Sick
1st Rdg  Isaiah  30;  19 – 21, 23 – 26
Gospel  Matthew  9: 35 – 10:1, 5a, 6 – 8

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.  At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”

Then he summoned his twelve disciples* and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.

Jesus sent out these twelve* after instructing them thus,  “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.  The Gospel of the Lord.


Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                        The Ministry of Hope

Today’s Gospel reveals the power of †Jesus. He cured illness and disease, He multiplied loaves and fish, He brought hope to the people.  The prophet Isaiah foretold the coming harvest: “He will be gracious to you.  He will give you the bread you eat…The wheat that the soil produces, will be rich” (Is.30: 20, 23).  †Jesus began bringing fruitfulness to the harvest by giving sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and the ability to walk to the lame.

We live in the times of the rich harvest.  We, like the early disciples, are called to work in the harvest.  Our fields might be members of our family; perhaps they are co-workers or business associates or even strangers.  Anywhere there are seeds to plant, cultivate or reap, that is where we are to go.

In the Gospel, those who were sick and ill were witnesses of God’s glory.  They were manifestations of God’s power working in †Jesus.  As disciples of †Jesus, we are called to be manifestations of the power of God’s love working through us.  Through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick I have witnessed the power of God working through me.  I have seen physical cures, from broken bones to cancer.  Fr. Sheahan has witnessed this too.  But, most importantly, I have witnessed the power of hope at work in my ministry to the sick.  The ministry of hope is a ministry every one of us can do; each one of us is called to do.  Those who brought someone to mass today to receive the Anointing of the Sick, you are living the ministry of hope.  Those of you who visit the sick, downtrodden, depressed, your words of understanding and love, your silent presence with them is the ministry of hope.  For those who are ill and in need of healing, you exercise the ministry of hope by your patience in suffering; by your trust in God when prayers for a cure are not answered, as you expected.  We are called to a radical attitude in life; to wait with openness and trust in God.

Fr. Henri Nouwen wrote: “It is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life.  It is living with the conviction that God molds us in love, holds us in tenderness, and moves away from us the sources of our fear” (Waiting for God: Advent Reflection and Prayer with Henri J.M. Nouwen; p. 6).  Trusting in God’s compassion and love, this is how those who are infirmed and suffering participate in the ministry of hope; how they are collaborators in the work of the harvest.  †Jesus declared: “The harvest is abundant and the laborers are few” (Matt.9:37).  There are more laborers out there than we think.  Everyone has a place in the harvest.  We are given abundant graces by the Lord through the Sacraments – like Eucharist, Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation, which we will celebrate as a community tomorrow.  We are given virtues like hope, to sustain us in challenging times and pass on to others.  Let us open our hearts to receive these gifts remembering the words of †Jesus:

“Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give” (Matt.10:8).


In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.