Sometimes the Bible gives wisdom about dealing with serious illness or the nearness of death. Other times, we just read of an episode that involves characters going through one or the other situation. If you ever plan something for my anointing or viaticum, go with the former. But here’s a brief passage from one of Paul’s letters that illustrates the latter:
With regard to Epaphroditus,
my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier,
your messenger and minister in my need,
I consider it necessary to send him to you.
For he has been longing for all of you
and was distressed because you heard that he was ill.
He was indeed ill, close to death;
but God had mercy on him,
not just on him but also on me,
so that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow.
I send him therefore with the greater eagerness,
so that, on seeing him, you may rejoice again,
and I may have less anxiety.
Welcome him then in the Lord
with all joy and hold such people in esteem,
because for the sake of the work of Christ
he came close to death,
risking his life to make up for those services to me
that you could not perform.
Preceding this is the kenosis passage (2:1-11) that leads into the apostle’s application of this in community life, striving for various virtues (12-18). Usually, Paul began speaking of his companions and others toward the end of his letters. Apparently, Epaphroditus made a journey with Paul for a time, suffered a serious illness and recovery, then was returned to northern Greece.
One possible touchpoint for a real world connection: the care people have for someone who is isolated far from home with a serious condition. Another might be a person who has served in ministry. The prayers of the minister might flesh out a home liturgy that uses this reading.
For an in-depth treatment of the Pastoral Care rites, check this page that outlines our examination from a decade ago.