Anyone who has ever experienced or witnessed illness knows how it makes a person helpless and vulnerable. Sickness sometimes leads to self-absorption and even anger against God. It also brings into stark relief human mortality. Yet in our need and misery, illness can also turn us to God through prayer and conversion. The Old Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures) saw the mystery of sickness intertwined with sin and evil. God's Chosen People also looked to a time when God would wipe away sin and bring to health and wholeness all those who are ill.
Jesus Christ healed the sick in His own public ministry, especially through the laying on of hands. For example, Jesus cured the blind, made lame people walk, cleansed lepers, and brought the dead back to life. Through His cures He showed special love to the suffering by healing their spiritual, psychological, and physical hurts. Jesus was specially responsive to people who exhibited faith in Him as the sign of God's love.
Jesus charged His disciples to continue His message and mission of healing. Thus, the early Church celebrated and proclaimed the good news of salvation by continuing Jesus' healing ministry. The apostles preached repentance, cast our demons, and anointed and healed the sick.
Today, the Lord continues “to touch” and to heal the sick and suffering. He does so through the prayers of the Church and through the sacraments, especially the Eucharist which has a healing effect, and the distinct rite for the sick, the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.