This mysterious and glorious reality is depicted in a number of ways in today’s first reading (James 5:13-20) as well as in the Church today.
God of course knows both our needs and our blessings without our needing to tell him (Matthew 6:32) and yet he invites us to tell him.
Is anyone among you suffering?
He should pray.
Is anyone in good spirits?
He should sing a song of praise.
Not only that, but he invites us to pray about other people’s needs.
(P)ray for one another, that you may be healed.
The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.
None of this is to say that our prayer tells God what he does not know or makes God “change his mind.” Rather, by inviting us to pray about these things, God is inviting us to participate – in deeply mysterious ways – in the unfolding of his loving will.
Nor are we to participate in the unfolding of that will and grace solely through the spiritual power of prayer. The grace of God, which comes to us through the Word made flesh, is not something manifested only by amorphous or otherworldly means. Our Lord empowers his body the Church to be channels of his grace through physical actions performed by specific individuals.
Is anyone among you sick?
He should summon the presbyters of the Church,
and they should pray over him
and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
The prayer of faith will save the sick person,
and the Lord will raise him up.
If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another...
These Sacraments the Lord has given us are truly wonderful gifts and we should rejoice in the opportunities to receive them.
This dynamic of God’s grace working through human means, of course, goes beyond the very special channels of the Sacraments or of intercessory prayer.
We can be instruments of God’s grace through many ways – by our words, by our witness of faith, and by our acts of charity.
We may not always see the effects of what is done through us. Indeed, sometimes we may feel discouraged, not just when the multitudes fail to flock to the cross of Christ at our call but most especially and painfully when we see people close to us fall away from the faith.
But the work of conversion is really the work of God’s grace and this grace, even working through flawed and finite instruments such as ourselves, can work wonders in the lives of others – with effects we may not see until eternity (and then how great our rejoicing will be).
My brothers and sisters,
if anyone among you should stray from the truth
and someone bring him back,
he should know that whoever brings back a sinner
from the error of his way
will save his soul from death
and will cover a multitude of sins.