We celebrate the XXXI WORLD DAY OF THE SICK on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, 11 February 2023. Introduced by Pope St. John Paul II in 1992, this annual observance is aimed at praying and sharing, sacrificing one’s suffering for the welfare of the Church, and urging everyone to see the face of Christ in one’s own ailing brother or sister in the great mystery of pain and illness.

Pope Francis’s message for the 31 st  World Day of the Sick, is entitled: “Take care of him” – Compassion as a synodal exercise of healing. In light of the Church’s synodal journey, Pope Francis invites “all of us to reflect on the fact that it is especially through the experience of vulnerability and illness that we can learn to walk together according to the style of God, which is closeness, compassion, and tenderness.”

The Holy Father refers to the Good Samaritan, which is reflected in one of the stained glass windows in the Chapel of St. Joseph’s Assisted Living. In the Holy Father’s words: “Here it is especially important to recognize the condition of loneliness and abandonment… it only takes a moment of our attention, of being moved to compassion within us, in order to eliminate it…The third passer-by, however, a Samaritan, a scorned foreigner, is moved with compassion and takes care of that stranger on the road, treating him as a brother. In doing so, without even thinking about it, he makes a difference, he makes the world more fraternal.”

Here at St. Joseph’s Senior Home we experience many blessings amid challenges. As the Holy Father says: “It is crucial, then, even in the midst of illness, that the whole Church measure herself against the Gospel example of the Good Samaritan, in order that she may become a true “field hospital”, for her mission is manifested in acts of care, particularly in the historical circumstances of our time. We are all fragile and vulnerable, and need that compassion which knows how to pause, approach, heal, and raise up.”

“The World Day of the Sick calls for prayer and closeness towards those who suffer. Yet it also aims to raise the awareness of God’s people, healthcare institutions and civil society with regard to a new way of moving forward together…  Indeed, the conclusion of the parable of the Good Samaritan suggests how the exercise of fraternity, which began as a face-to-face encounter, can be expanded into organized care. The elements of the inn, the innkeeper, the money and the promise to remain informed of the situation (cf. Lk 10:34-35) all point to the commitment of healthcare and social workers, family members and volunteers, through whom good stands up in the face of evil every day, in every part of the world.”

We at St. Joseph’s Senior Home have a first-hand experience of Pope Francis’ words: “These past years of the pandemic have increased our sense of gratitude for those who work each day in the fields of healthcare and research… Gratitude, then, needs to be matched by actively seeking, in every country, strategies and resources in order to guarantee each person’s fundamental right to basic and decent healthcare… Indeed, “we were created for a fulfilment that can only be found in love. We cannot be indifferent to suffering.”… Sick people, in fact, are at the center of God’s people, and the Church advances together with them as a sign of a humanity in which everyone is precious…”

The Holy Father ends: “let us turn our thoughts to the Shrine of Lourdes. To the intercession of Mary, Health of the Sick, I entrust all of you who are ill; you who care for them in your families, or through your work, research and volunteer service; and those of you who are committed to weaving personal, ecclesial, and civic bonds of fraternity. To all, I impart my heartfelt blessing.”

To this we all say “Amen.” So be it, Lord. With Your blessing upon our Chaplain, Sisters with the Staff, Residents, Volunteers and all People of Good will. Long live St. Joseph’s Senior Home!

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