The message for the World Day of the Sick: a lie lurks behind some expressions that make people think that lives affected by grave illness are not worth living
Domenico Agasso jr
Time given to the sick is holy, ‘praising God’. Francis claims this in his message for the XXIII World Day of the Sick that will take place on the 11th February 2015. He addresses especially ‘all of you who are burdened by illness and are united in various ways to the flesh of the suffering Christ, as well as to you, professionals and volunteers in the field of health care’.
The Pope claims that it is a hypocritical lie that ‘lurks behind certain phrases which so insist on the importance of “quality of life” that they make people think that lives affected by grave illness are not worth living!’. About this ‘great lie’, he says that ‘even when illness, loneliness and inability make it hard for us to reach out to others, the experience of suffering can become a privileged means of transmitting grace’. So then, ‘people immersed in the mystery of suffering and pain, when they accept these in faith, can themselves become living witnesses of a faith capable of embracing suffering, even without being able to understand its full meaning.’
The Pope denounces that ‘Occasionally our world forgets the special value of time spent at the bedside of the sick, since we are in such a rush; caught up as we are in a frenzy of doing, of producing, we forget about giving ourselves freely, taking care of others, being responsible for others. Behind this attitude there is often a lukewarm faith’. Therefore, the Pope urges us: ‘I would like once again to stress “the absolute priority of ‘going forth from ourselves toward our brothers and sisters’ as one of the two great commandments which ground every moral norm’. Moreover, the Pope highlights ‘how many Christians show, not by their words but by lives rooted in a genuine faith’. Living close to the sick, they are on a ‘great path of sanctification’ because if it is ‘easy to help someone for a few days’, it is instead ‘difficult to look after a person for months or even years, in some cases when he or she is no longer capable of expressing gratitude’
The Pope also warns that ‘True charity is a sharing which does not judge, which does not demand the conversion of others’ and it is ‘it is free of that false humility which, deep down, seeks praise and is self-satisfied about whatever good it does’.