Message of his Holiness Pope Francis
World Day of the Sick 2020
11 February 2020
“Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I willgive you rest” (Mt 11:28)
Dear brothers and sisters,
1. Jesus’ words, “Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and Iwill give you rest” (Mt 11:28) point to the mysterious path ofgrace that is revealed to the simple and gives new strength to those who areweary and tired. These words of Christ express the solidarity of the Son of Manwith all those who are hurt and afflicted. How many people suffer in both bodyand soul! Jesus urges everyone to draw near to him – “Come to me!” – and hepromises them comfort and repose. “When Jesus says this, he has before him thepeople he meets every day on the streets of Galilee: very many simple people,the poor, the sick, sinners, those who are marginalized by the burdenof the law and the oppressive social system... These people always followedhim to hear his word, a word that gave hope! Jesus’ words always give hope!” (Angelus, 6 July 2014).
On this XXVIII World Day of the Sick, Jesus repeats these words to thesick, the oppressed, and the poor. For they realize that they depend entirelyon God and, beneath the burden of their trials, stand in need of his healing.Jesus does not make demands of those who endure situations of frailty,suffering and weakness, but offers his mercy and his comforting presence. Helooks upon a wounded humanity with eyes that gaze into the heart of eachperson. That gaze is not one of indifference; rather, it embraces people intheir entirety, each person in his or her health condition, discarding no one,but rather inviting everyone to share in his life and to experience his tenderlove.
2. Why doesJesus have these feelings? Because he himself became frail, endured humansuffering and received comfort from his Father. Indeed, only those who personally experience suffering are then able tocomfort others. There are so many kinds of grave suffering: incurable andchronic diseases, psychological diseases, situations calling for rehabilitationor palliative care, numerous forms of disability, children’s or geriatricdiseases… At times human warmth is lacking in our approach to these. What isneeded is a personalized approach to the sick, not just of curing butalso of caring, in view of an integral human healing. Inexperiencing illness, individuals not only feel threatened in their physicalintegrity, but also in the relational, intellectual, affective and spiritualdimensions of their lives. For this reason, in addition to therapy and support,they expect care and attention. In a word, love. At the side of every sickperson, there is also a family, which itself suffers and is in need of supportand comfort.
3. Dear brothers and sisters who are ill, your sickness makes you in aparticular way one of those “who labour and are burdened”, and thus attract theeyes and heart of Jesus. In him, you will find light to brighten your darkestmoments and hope to soothe your distress. He urges you: “Come to me”. In him,you will find strength to face all the worries and questions that assail youduring this “dark night” of body and soul. Christ did not give usprescriptions, but through his passion, death and resurrection he frees us fromthe grip of evil.
In your experience of illness, you certainly need a place to find rest.The Church desires to become more and more the “inn” of the Good Samaritan whois Christ (cf. Lk 10:34), that is, a home where you canencounter his grace, which finds expression in closeness, acceptance andrelief. In this home, you can meet people who, healed in their frailty by God’smercy, will help you bear your cross and enable your suffering to give you anew perspective. You will be able to look beyond your illness to a greaterhorizon of new light and fresh strength for your lives.
A key role in this effort to offer rest and renewal to our sick brothersand sisters is played by healthcare workers: physicians, nurses, medical andadministrative professionals, assistants and volunteers. Thanks to theirexpertise, they can make patients feel the presence of Christ who consoles andcares for the sick, and heals every hurt. Yet they too are men and women withtheir own frailties and even illnesses. They show how true it is that “onceChrist’s comfort and rest is received, we are called in turn to become rest andcomfort for our brothers and sisters, with a docile and humble attitude inimitation of the Teacher” (Angelus, 6 July 2014).
4. Dear healthcare professionals, let us always remember thatdiagnostic, preventive and therapeutic treatments, research, care andrehabilitation are always in the service of the sick person; indeed the noun“person” takes priority over the adjective “sick”. In your work, may you alwaysstrive to promote the dignity and life of each person, and reject anycompromise in the direction of euthanasia, assisted suicide or suppression oflife, even in the case of terminal illness.
When confronted with the limitations and even failures of medicalscience before increasingly problematic clinical cases and bleak diagnoses, youare called to be open to the transcendent dimension of your profession thatreveals its ultimate meaning. Let us remember that life is sacred and belongsto God; hence it is inviolable and no one can claim the right to dispose of itfreely (cf. Donum Vitae, 5; Evangelium Vitae, 29-53). Life must be welcomed, protected, respected and served fromits beginning to its end: both human reason and faith in God, the author oflife, require this. In some cases, conscientious objection becomes a necessarydecision if you are to be consistent with your “yes” to life and to the humanperson. Your professionalism, sustained by Christian charity, will be the bestservice you can offer for the safeguarding of the truest human right, the rightto life. When you can no longer provide a cure, you will still be able toprovide care and healing, through gestures and procedures that give comfort andrelief to the sick.
Tragically, in some contexts of war and violent conflict, healthcareprofessionals and the facilities that receive and assist the sick are attacked.In some areas, too, political authorities attempt to manipulate medical carefor their own advantage, thus restricting the medical profession’s legitimateautonomy. Yet attacking those who devote themselves to the service of thesuffering members of society does not serve the interests of anyone.
5. On this XXVIII World Day of the Sick, I think of our many brothersand sisters throughout the world who have no access to medical care becausethey live in poverty. For this reason, I urge healthcare institutions andgovernment leaders throughout the world not to neglect social justice out of apreoccupation for financial concerns. It is my hope that, by joining theprinciples of solidarity and subsidiarity, efforts will be made to cooperate inensuring that everyone has access to suitable treatments for preserving andrestoring their health. I offer heartfelt thanks to all those volunteers whoserve the sick, often compensating for structural shortcomings, whilereflecting the image of Christ, the Good Samaritan, by their acts of tenderlove and closeness.
To the Blessed Virgin Mary, Health of the Sick, I entrust all those whobear the burden of illness, along with their families and all healthcareworkers. With the assurance of a remembrance in my prayers, I cordially impartmy Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 3 January 2020
Memorial ofthe Most Holy Name of Jesus
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