On Sunday, 11 February 2018, we celebrate the 26th World Day of the Sick. It coincides with the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Holy Father has chosen the theme for this World Day of the Sick and it comes from the words Jesus spoke when on the Cross to his Mother, Mary and to John, his beloved disciple: “Woman, behold your son… Behold your mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her into his home,” (Jn 19:26-27). These words from Jesus irradiates the mystery of the Cross, where Jesus manifests His glory and shows His love and compassion, which then becomes the foundation and rule for our Christian community.
With this theme, we come to understand that the Holy Father reminds us about Mary’s maternal care and her role for the sick people. She is always our Mother who gently and tenderly cares for our spiritual and physical needs. Her spiritual and physical care for us, and the healing power of Jesus, can never be underestimated. When we reflect on the people in the Gospels, they are always in haste to bring the sick to Jesus, so that the Lord will heal them from their physical infirmities rather than spiritual infirmities. All those who touched Jesus Christ with their faith were cured. Faith is one of the most powerful acts of the human person, since God Himself chooses to be moved by it. How strong is our faith in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ? Do we reach out and touch Him in faith every day? Do we allow Him to act in our lives through faith?
The Church has always been faithfully responding to the sick and suffering as it gives hope, tender care and mercy to them. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, uses the Church herself as an image of ‘field hospital’ which cares for the sick and suffering, when they are spiritually or physically in need for the healing touching of Jesus.
There are many doctors, nurses and care givers who give their service in hospitals, clinics and healthcare institutions. We also know that there are parishioners, priests, consecrated people and volunteers who visit and offer their pastoral care to all those who are sick and home-bound. Not forgetting our immediate family members who have dedicated themselves to caring for our own chronically sick or differently-abled parents, grandparents, spouses, children or relatives. The love and care, given within their family circle, is an extraordinary witness of love for the human person. All this effort, contribution, service and willingness to give of themselves, is immeasurable.
The number of people who are going through pain, suffering and sickness in our families and communities are increasing. It is our duty and responsibility to give our pastoral care, and to reach out to them with the healing touch of Jesus. Many people, throughout the centuries firmly believe the ‘touching’ of Christ through the sacraments, brings about spiritual healing and redemption.
“When one member of the body is suffering, we all suffer,” (1 Cor 12:26). We are reminded of our roles pertaining to the sick and suffering and to value them as members within the body. The Church calls us to respond to their needs through hope, tenderness, love and compassion. We must assure them that they are not alone. Let us bring hope and joy to the sick and suffering, and comfort them in their affliction.
Fr. George Packiasamy