Thursday, 4 February 2016


                                  VISITING THE SICK 

Mtt. 25 “I was sick and you visited me.”
Never, never, never shall I forget the day I visited a young woman who was confined to her bed, paralyzed. Young boys were enjoying themselves playing football on the pasture beside her board-and-shingle home. As I entered her bedroom I was bowled over by what I saw.

Her small son was sitting by her bed – holding her hand. Not a word passed between them.  There I saw an intensity of love that defied description. This was sacrificial love on a grand scale – the little boy could have been outside with his friends and no-one would have blamed him!

Many a time Jesus put Himself out to be available to the sick – individuals and clamouring crowds. They sensed the compassion with which He gave so much of Himself to caring for them.

As disciples of Jesus we must make caring for the sick  a priority in all our pastoral ministry. We, and the Church to which we belong, will become lovable to the world if take to heart these words in the Book of Sirach (7.35)

‘Do not shrink from visiting the sick; in this way you will make yourself loved.’

Did not Jesus need loving companions simply to be there with Him in Gethsemane and on Calvary? What meant so much to Him then He now wants us to do for the sick. We are to follow the example of that little boy who had to be at the bedside of his mother. His loving concern must have been such a healing consolation to her!

Jesus wants us to know He could see Himself in the in the person of that mother in love-scene in the small house in the tropical island of Grenada.

‘I was sick and you visited me, you came to see me…"Lord, When did we find you sick and go to see you?...In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” (Matt. 25). 
Jesus must have loved that little boy, so very, very much!

With the help of St. James we Catholics now find greater richness and a profound spirituality, in the sick being visited. He writes,

‘ Anyone of you who is ill should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint the sick person with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him. The prayer of faith will save the sick person and the Lord will raise him up again; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. (James 5).

This, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, is for those who are seriously sick, but not necessarily close to death.  Through this Sacrament Jesus accompanies them as they travel on the sometimes agonizing journey of life. Perhaps for many years theirs will be the peace that Jesus promised - peace that the world cannot give. 

Jesus wants them to enjoy the serenity of looking forward to eventually meeting Him face to face in Heaven. It does happen that receiving this Sacrament sick people experience less pain; sometimes they are completely cured.

Many a time have the  family and friends gathered around the bed told me how much they have been comforted and consoled as they have shared in the loving prayers the Church has offered for their ailing, perhaps dying, loved ones.

The priest must be called once it is known that someone is gravely ill. Those we know to be grievously sick have the right to receive the Sacraments of the Anointing of the Sick, Reconciliation, and, above all, Holy Communion. 

Also, those Catholics who are confined to their homes have the right to be regularly visited and have Holy Communion brought to them.

Permanent Deacons and Eucharistic Ministers love the Corporal Work of Mercy of  Visiting the Sick. They count it as a wonderful privilege to bring to the sick Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  

To my mind, during this Jubilee Year of Mercy the Local Church  alert priests, parishes, families and neighbours to their duty of ensuring that the spiritual needs of the ailing and the frail are not neglected. 

Let us pray
Almighty Father,
Long ago you promised that you would never forget your People. You had carved them on the palm of your hand! Your beloved Son, Jesus, promised his Apostles he would be with them until the end of time. He even told them they must love one another as he had loved them. He was prepared to lay down his life for them and for the whole of mankind.
We shall always need this merciful caring love; but especially at those times when we are most insecure, most vulnerable, most in distress, when we are sick.
Through this Corporal Work of Mercy you are calling all of us to be sensitive to the anguish of others; to be a loving presence to them; to be responsive to their needs.
Almighty Father, we beg you to help us to our step outside our personal agendas, our personal problems, fears and anxieties. Mould our hearts so that no-one, especially members of our families and circle of friends, may feel meaningless to us, worthless to us, nothing to us. Prompt us to keep in touch with them, visit them, when they were sick, distressed.
May we welcome your calling us to be your ambassadors attentive to the physical and spiritual needs your beloved children when they sick. Amen
For the sake of His Sacred Passion have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Peter Clarke O.P


1 comment:

  1. Thank you Fr Peter.
    I do appreciate reading your thoughts.
    God bless