Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Anointing the Sick- Sacrament of Healing
Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?”
The passage describes the healing of Naaman, a brave and valiant soldier of the army of the King of Aram who suffered from leprosy. Naaman’s wife’s servant girl spoke of a prophet in Samaria who could heal him and Naaman asked the permission of the King of Aram to go to Samaria to be healed. The King happily agreed and wrote a letter to the King of Israel asking him to heal Naaman. It is funny how things get lost in translation so to speak. The servant girl spoke of a prophet but it was the King of Israel who was asked to heal Naaman. Nevertheless, Prophet Elisha upon hearing of this miscommunication, informs the King to send Naaman to him. Naaman, looking forward to being healed by this prophet, goes to the door of Elisha but Elisha doesn’t come out to greet him or heal him. Elisha, rather, sends a messenger to Naaman asking Naaman to go and wash seven times in the River Jordan. At this point, Naaman loses sight of why he came to Elisha.
The word, ‘sacrament’ means “a religious ceremony or ritual regarded as imparting divine grace, such as baptism, the Eucharist, and (in the Roman Catholic and many Orthodox Churches) penance and the anointing of the sick.” Thus it is very important for the sacrament to be performed in the way it was intended in order for divine grace to be imparted. By telling Naaman to go and wash in the River Jordan, Elisha was asking Naaman to receive divine grace and transformation from his diseased self to his new self. Naaman however, not understanding the significance of the ritual (sacrament), becomes angry and walks off. However, once he does complete the sacrament, he is fully healed.
We often question why certain things are done in a particular way. These questions arise because we do not understand the divine meaning behind the ritual. The liturgy of our Mar Thoma Church is filled with many symbols and practices that aim to bring us closer to our Lord and gain healing from our old diseased selves and transform us into a more spiritually attuned self. Thus, it is crucial to understand the meaning behind our sacraments.
Lord, grant us your wisdom so that our eyes and hearts may be opened for us to understand You better. Help us to know that these sacraments are designed to impart your divine grace to us and transform us into new beings who are one with You. Amen.
Epiphany Mar Thoma Church