I’ve known of this Scripture passage from Wisdom Literature of the Bible for many years. Not sure why I never made a connection to the Pastoral Care rites and the Lectionary that accompanies them. A social media friend is facing a cancer diagnosis, and I offered the Scripture citation for him as a response and a prayer.
Many Catholics wait to request anointing until after a medical treatment. When friends are facing something serious like surgery, I always ask if they’ve been anointed yet. A fruitful celebration of the sacrament might involve before some major turning point in treatment. That’s not to say the dawn of recovery isn’t good. Maybe then too.
The second century BC might have had very, very few women doctors. In an opportunity for prayer, I might ask the sick person the name of their doctor, and if a woman, adapt accordingly:
Make friends with the doctor,
for she is essential to you;
God has also established her in the profession.
From God the doctor has wisdom,
and from the king she receives sustenance.
Knowledge makes the doctor distinguished,
and gives access to those in authority.
God makes the earth yield healing herbs
which the prudent should not neglect;
Was not the water sweetened by a twig,
so that all might learn his power?
God endows people with knowledge,
to glory in mighty works,
Through which the doctor eases pain,
and the druggist prepares medicines.
Thus God’s work continues without cease
in its efficacy on the surface of the earth.
My child, when you are ill, do not delay,
but pray to God, for it is God who heals.
I know there are people who are skeptical of modern medicine. Anti-vaxxers are sincere, but usually misguided. Sometimes doctors and the systems of which they are a part fail a patient. Thus we have malpractice.
For many modern people, it can be difficult to put ourselves in another’s hands and surrender our power, control, and self-determination. Maybe some believers think they can turn it over to God. Maybe letting a doctor care for us is proper practice in our faith.
If you readers are interested in more on the Pastoral Care of the Sick, check this page that outlines our examination from a decade ago. Would you include this reading for a sick person’s prayer?