World Day of the Sick Mass on 11 February

06/02/2015

Originally published in Catholic Outlook February 2015

By Dr Michael Tan

The 23rd World Day of the Sick Mass will be celebrated in St Patrick’s Church at Blacktown on 11 February at 7pm. The first World Day of the Sick Mass was celebrated by St Pope John Paul II in 1993 on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The Mass has been held annually throughout the world since, and this Mass will be the beginning of an annual celebration in our Diocese.

In his message for this year’s Mass, Pope Francis draws inspiration from Job 29:15: “I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame.” Job is the just man who learns through suffering that God draws near to him in his suffering.

While he has many unanswered questions about his suffering, in the end, Job learns that his “experience of suffering can become a privileged means of transmitting grace.”

In this regard, Job’s experience of suffering “finds its genuine response only in the cross of Jesus, the supreme act of God’s solidarity with us.”

In this act of solidarity, God responds to our questions, including “Why me?”, not with words, thoughts or ideas. Rather, God’s response comes from the cross of Jesus, who through His compassion, humility and obedience, transforms our own suffering into an experience of grace as we look at Him on the cross.

The “why me?” question is then set in the context of gazing on Jesus on the cross, who is our wounded healer, and who invites us to enter into the mystery of our suffering so as to encounter the risen Christ, in whom we live, and move, and have our being.

Pope Francis goes on to share a meditation with us on the wisdom of the heart in relation to Job 29:15. His first point is that this “wisdom” comes through prayer, and is both a gift and a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

The wisdom of the heart also calls us to serve our brothers and sisters with a spirit of humility and care. Professionals and volunteers are called to a service rooted in a genuine faith.

While this service can become a burden, and tiring, the Pope reminds us that faithfulness to serving the needs of the sick is a great path of sanctification – that when we rely on the closeness of the Lord in our service, our service becomes a special means of support for the Church’s mission to serve the needs of the sick in our society.

Another aspect of the wisdom of the heart is that of “being with our brothers and sisters.” Time spent with the sick is “holy time.” It is a time of sharing in the solitude of praising God who conforms us to the image of His Son, who “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:28)

In this way, the wisdom of the heart combines our mission of going forth from ourselves towards our brothers and sisters, with our service of spending time at the bedside of the sick.

The Pope then finishes his message by entrusting the World Day of the Sick to the maternal protection of Mary, seat of wisdom, who intercedes for all the sick and for those who care for them. To read the Holy Father’s message click here

Your donation to this month’s DWF Appeal will help to fund hospital chaplaincy in the Diocese of Parramatta. For more information about the ministries that receive support from the DWF Appeal visit: www.faithatwork.org.au

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