On Tuesday 11 February, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Church holds the 22nd World Day of Prayer for Sick People. The theme for this year is taken from the First Letter of St John: Faith and Charity: ‘We Ought to Lay Down Our Lives for One Another’ (1 John 3:16).
In the Archdiocese of Liverpool there will be a celebration on the Following Sunday, 16 February, when Bishop Tom Williams will celebrate a Mass with and for Healthcare Workers at 3.00 pm at Christ the King and Our Lady’s church on Queens Drive.
Each year the Holy Father issues a message to mark the day and, in his first such message, Pope Francis is commending the day to the intercession of Mary, so that she will help sick people to live their own suffering in communion with Jesus Christ.
In his message Pope Francis turns his attention especially to sick people and all those who provide them with care and treatment. He begins by saying ‘the Church sees in you, dear sick people, the special presence of the suffering Christ’ going on to say ‘in the plan of God’s love even the night of pain yields to the light of Easter, and courage, which enables us to confront every hardship in his company, in union with him’.
Pope Francis underlines the fact that although the Son of God made man has not taken away human disease and suffering, he has taken them on to himself, transforming and reducing them because they no longer have the last word. He speaks of the true test of faith in Christ saying: ‘the proof of authentic faith in Christ is self-giving and the spreading of love for our neighbours, especially for those who do not merit it, for the suffering and for the marginalised’.
The Holy Father highlights that we should approach those who are in need of care with tenderness, ‘when we draw near with tender love to those in need of care, we bring hope and God’s smile to the contradictions of the world’ and goes on to offer Mary as a model of tenderness and sensitivity,’ who is always attentive to the voice of God and the needs and troubles of her children’.
In conclusion Pope Francis speaks of the figure of St. John, the disciple who was with Mary at the foot of the Cross. It is this Saint, he stresses, that takes us back to the source of faith and charity, ‘to the heart of the God who “is love”’.
All are welcome to attend the Mass on Sunday 16 February to pray for and support all who are sick and those who work in healthcare.