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In the 31st World Day of the Sick, we take as a point of reference the words of Pope Francis who invites 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.
When you are going through an illness, it is normal to feel tired and without strength to continue, which is why care and help is essential. This is one of the bases of our daily work, accompanying the sick, always under the umbrella of hospitality (our main value).
As the book of the Prophet Ezekiel reflects, the Lord says:“I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down,says the Lord God.. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak […] I will feed them with justice” (34:15-16). With this verse, the Pope invites us to a reflection in which he stresses that the lost, the sick and the weak bring us to the centre of the Lord’s attention, who is a Father and does not want to lose any of his children along the way.
With these words, he invites us all to row together in the same direction, since walking together in community is an essential point, especially when it comes to processes of illness. In this emphasis on working together, the Pope turns to the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, as a turning point, in order to be able to come out of the the “dark clouds” of a closed world to “envisaging and engendering an open world” (cf. No. 56).
“Take care of him” (Lk 10:35) is the Samaritan’s recommendation to the innkeeper. Jesus repeats it also to each one of us, and at the end he exhorts us: “Go and do likewise“. As explained in the above-mentioned Fratelli tutti, “The parable shows us how a community can be rebuilt by men and women who identify with the vulnerability of others, who reject the creation of a society of exclusion, and act instead as neighbours, lifting up and rehabilitating the fallen for the sake of the common good” (No. 67). Indeed, “we were created for a fulfilment that can only be found in love. We cannot be indifferent to suffering” (No. 68).
Finally, the Pope closes his message by inviting us to look at the Shrine of Lourdes as a prophecy, a lesson entrusted to the Church in the heart of modernity. In this way the Pope emphasises that “Sick people are at the centre of the people of God, who go forward with them as a prophecy of a humanity in which all are valuable and no one is to be discarded”.