Saint Paul, or more likely an author in his tradition, follows the citation of an ancient hymn to Christ with this passage:
(Christ) has now reconciled
in his fleshly body through his death,
to present you holy, without blemish,
and irreproachable before him,
provided that you persevere in the faith,
firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting
from the hope of the gospel that you heard,
which has been preached
to every creature under heaven,
of which I, Paul, am a minister.
The reference continues the community’s orientation to Jesus as well as the mandatum cited in Mark 16:15. What I notice first in this is the centrality and importance of Jesus in the Christian’s experience of sickness or death. Jesus is, as we read below, our “hope for glory.” We can take that as gospel, so to speak.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,
and in my flesh I am filling up
what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ
on behalf of his body,
which is the church,
of which I am a minister
in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me
to bring to completion for you the word of God,
the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.
But now it has been manifested to his holy ones,
to whom God chose to make known
the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles;
it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.
Does a sick person have an awareness of Jesus as personal friend and redeemer? Have they lived a progressive experience from non-believer to faithful, from inactive to active, or some kind of conversion experience, perhaps even during their convalescence? If so, this reading might touch upon that and be very appropriate.
It is he whom we proclaim,
admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
For this I labor and struggle,
in accord with the exercise of his power
working within me.
This final experience is easy to overlook. The hope is that the community, members and leaders “presents” the infirm soul to the care of Christ. The hope is that serious illness is an opportunity for God’s glory to be experienced and witnessed (Cf. John 9:3) and that while perfection is in the realm of the Divinity, it is an aspiration made possible by grace. Prayers by the community, and well-reflected life experiences of a soul are important pieces in that inscrutable puzzle of how any of us will be drawn into the mystery of God.
For an in-depth treatment of the Pastoral Care rites, check this page that outlines our examination from a decade ago.