John 4:43-54 is a gospel passage that has taken on more meaning for me over the last two years. It is the story of the royal official in Capernaum whose son was ill. This official begged Jesus to come heal him so he would not die. Jesus replied, “Go. Your son will live.”
Reflecting on the fifth Corporal Work of Mercy, I am reminded that two years ago this week my youngest son was rushed to the hospital with a brain infection that nearly took his life. A terrifying experience, to be sure.
An abscess was found in his right frontal lobe. They tried for days to fight it with antibiotics, but the pain continued to increase and his brain began to bleed. Before I knew it, white coats surrounded him attaching to his body tubes and wires while shouting orders in doctor speak.
They whisked me away into another room while my wife stood by my son’s side. In that little room, the unit director and neurosurgery assistant explained to me what was about to happen while tears flowed down my face. They told me every possible complication that could occur as a result of this imminent craniotomy. The words “brain damage” and “death” echoed in my mind.
During the chaos of the moment, my pastor walked in. He anointed my son, walked with us to the entrance of the surgery unit, and sat with me the entire time my son was in surgery. He distracted me for a couple of hours. We talked theology, something he knew I loved to do.
In persona Christi was never more relevant to me.
After a successful surgery and two more months of intravenous and oral antibiotics, the doctor said to us (in different words): “Your son will live.”
When I read that gospel story, I actually feel the great relief of this royal official who asked Jesus to heal his son. I lived it. And my son is alive and doing well.
Jesus healed him. But this time he used medical advances not available in the first century AD and a loving pastor who gave us his presence and the presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
From Chuck Frost, The Main Thing guest blogger