POPE FRANCIS: “I was sick and you visited me”.

The Thirtieth World day of the Sick is celebrated on 11 February 2022. In his message for this world day of the sick the Holy Father acknowledged that many advances have been made, yet there is still a long way to go in ensuring that all the sick, also those living in places and situations of great poverty and marginalization, receive the health care they need, as well as the pastoral care that can help them experience their sickness in union with the crucified and risen Christ.

The theme this year is “‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’ (Lk 6:36): Standing beside those who suffer on a path of charity.” Talking about mercy the Pope says we can say with wonder and gratitude that God’s mercy embraces both fatherhood and motherhood (cf. Is 49:15). God cares for us with the strength of a father and the tenderness of a mother; he unceasingly desires to give us new life in the Holy Spirit.

The message goes on to talk about Jesus, the mercy of the Father, of whom he says we do well to ask ourselves why Jesus showed such great concern for the sick, so much so that he made it paramount in the mission of the apostles, who were sent by the Master to proclaim the Gospel and to heal the sick

Pope Francis also speak about centres of care as “houses of mercy”. Here among other things the Pope says merciful like the Father, countless missionaries have combined the preaching of the Gospel with the construction of hospitals, dispensaries and care homes. And the Holy Father wishes to reaffirm the importance of Catholic healthcare institutions: “they are a precious treasure to be protected and preserved; their presence has distinguished the history of the Church, showing her closeness to the sick and the poor, and to situations overlooked by others.”

The Holy Father then turned his focus on “Pastoral mercy: presence and proximity” noting that he would like to remind everyone that closeness to the sick and their pastoral care is not only the task of certain specifically designated ministers; visiting the sick is an invitation that Christ addresses to all his disciples. How many sick and elderly people are living at home and waiting for a visit! The ministry of consolation is a task for every baptized person, mindful of the word of Jesus: “I was sick and you visited me”.

The full message can be found here too.

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