Dear Editor: The theme for World Day of the Sick today is Faith and Charity: “We know love by this, that He laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (1 John 3:16).
This is a day dedicated to the sick and all those who provide them with assistance and care.
Pope Francis has written a message for this day and what follows is my summary of his message to the sick, suffering and their neighbours.
We are called to recognize in the sick a special presence of the suffering Christ. Within any human suffering is the suffering of Jesus; he suffers with us and he reveals its meaning.
He did not remove illness and suffering from human experience but he transformed them so that they no longer have the last word.
Oh, but it can so diminish and distress us. Yet sickness and suffering cannot defeat us.
Sickness and suffering bares the souls and awakens a fledgling faith in the divine. For those of us who are Christians, Jesus is the way and with his Spirit we can follow him. His medicine becomes our remedy, our only remedy at times. That seed of hope, sown by faith, is often the only straw to which the sick and suffering person can cling.
Suffering and sickness can and should be a source of spiritual awakening — it’s a way of sharing the life and passion of Jesus. Jesus gave himself to us out of love, so we too can love others as God has loved us, giving our lives for one another. Our living faith becomes goodness, faith in the crucified Christ becomes the strength to love to the end, even our enemies.
The proof of authentic faith in Christ is self-giving and the spreading of love for our neighbours, especially for those who do not merit it, for the suffering and for the marginalized.
As for me, I want to offer prayer for the elderly and for those who are victims of violence this year. I pray they will find hope in my words and that they embrace the love of that one great physician — Jesus.
I think and pray for my father, and all the others, in the long-term care facility and I think and pray for those who suffer day in and day out from all sorts of abuse.
Let us consider crosses. For many who are sick and suffering the cross is an image used to describe their condition.
Jesus rescued humanity by way of the cross.
Pope Francis offers this reflection: “The cross is the certainty of the faithful love which God has for us. A love so great that it enters into our suffering and gives us the strength to bear it. It is a love which enters into death to conquer it and to save us. The cross of Christ invites us also to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help.
Let us take up, let us glory in, and let us share in, our crosses.
May god bless the sick and suffering.
Rev. Don Leonard, Corner Brook