“Visit the Sick”
The parable of the Good Samaritan is so powerful that the very term has passed into our language. Jesus tells us that when the Samaritan found the man who had been assaulted, he bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, then brought him to a place where he could recover (Luke 10:34).
One of the glories of our Catholic tradition is the many institutions founded over the centuries to care for the sick. Heroic women and men have dedicated their entire lives to caring for the sick and elderly, and it may be that God is calling you to such a vocation. That is not the path for most of us, but we all should be concerned about health care in our nation. As Catholics we should do what we can to further just policies and also assist our own Catholic hospitals and convalescent homes.
Yet St. John Paul II reminds us that institutional solutions are not enough. During his own recovery from the attempt on his life, the Holy Father noticed that often doctors talked about his “case” in front of him, without including him in the conversation. They were no doubt very professional, but John Paul recognized how important it is for the patient to feel that he or she is more than just a “case”.
Visiting the sick is a work of mercy that calls for special discernment. Illness isolates people, and visits and cards remind them that they are not alone. But we must also be sensitive to individual needs: some people prefer privacy when they are unwell. We need to be humble enough to ask those who are sick what help they want, rather than assuming that we know already. On the other hand, we may find that we are not making that visit to the hospital because we are uncomfortable with the fact that seeing someone we love who is ill reminds us of our own mortality. We should pray for our loved ones who are sick, and also pray for the light of the Holy Spirit to know how best to serve their needs, not our own.
Here are some local examples of this work in action, here at St. Mary. We have been blessed for many years with the opportunity to celebrate Mass at four local nursing homes. A core group of parishioners, giving marvelous witness, comes to join in prayer with the residents of those care facilities. Additional nursing homes are visited by ministers of Holy Communion. I am sure we have all noticed a substantial number of these generous men and women, coming forward after Communion to receive hosts to bring to our brothers and sisters who cannot join us but hunger for the Eucharist. As Deacon Pete highlighted in his homily last weekend, the recent addition of Camille Horvath to our parish staff, as Pastoral Associate with focus on pastoral care, has set us up to be even more responsive to the needs of homebound. To date, some 50 parishioners are visited in their homes regularly. Praise God!!
Once again, we thank the website, jubileeofmercy-eb.org for the main portion of these reflections.