Message of the Holy Father for the XXVIII World Day of the Sick

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“Come to me, all you who are tired and oppressed,
and I will give you refreshment” (Mt 11, 28)



Dear brothers and sisters,

1. The words that Jesus pronounces: ” Come to me, all of you who are tired and oppressed, and I will give you refreshment” (Mt 11:28) indicate the mysterious path of grace which is revealed to the simple and which offers refreshment to the fatigued and to the tired. These words express the solidarity of the Son of man, Jesus Christ, in front of an afflicted and suffering humanity. How many people suffer in body and spirit! He calls everyone to go to him, ” come to me” , and promises them relief and refreshment. «When Jesus says this, he has before his eyes the people he meets every day on the streets of Galilee: many simple people, poor, sick, sinners, marginalized by the weight of the law and by the oppressive social system… These people have always chased him to listen to his word – a word that gave hope »( Angelus , 6 July 2014).

On the XXVIII World Day of the Sick, Jesus addresses the invitation to the sick and oppressed, to the poor who know they depend entirely on God and who, wounded by the weight of the trial, need healing. Jesus Christ, to those who experience anguish for their own situation of fragility, pain and weakness, does not impose laws, but offers his mercy, that is, his restorative person. Jesus looks at wounded humanity. He has eyes that see, that realize, because they look deeply, do not run indifferently, but stop and welcome the whole man, every man in his health condition, without discarding anyone, inviting everyone to enter his life to do experience of tenderness.

2. Why does Jesus Christ have these feelings? Because he himself became weak, experiencing human suffering and receiving in turn refreshment from the Father. In fact, only those who experience this experience personally will be comforting for the other. There are several serious forms of suffering: incurable and chronic diseases, psychic pathologies, those that require rehabilitation or palliative care, various disabilities, diseases of childhood and old age … In these circumstances, a lack of humanity is sometimes felt and it is therefore necessary to tailor the approach to the patient, adding to cure the caring, for integral human healing. In illness the person feels compromised not only his physical integrity, but also the relational, intellectual, affective, spiritual dimensions; and therefore awaits, in addition to therapies, support, concern, attention … in short, love. Furthermore, alongside the patient there is a family that suffers and also asks for comfort and closeness.

3. Dear sick brothers and sisters, illness places you in a particular way among those who, “tired and oppressed”, attract the gaze and the heart of Jesus. From there comes the light for your dark moments, the hope for your despondency. He invites you to go to him: “Come.” In him, in fact, the anxieties and questions that arise in you in this “night” of body and spirit will find strength to be crossed. Yes, Christ did not give us recipes, but with his passion, death and resurrection he frees us from the oppression of evil.

In this condition you certainly need a place to refresh yourself. The Church wants to be more and more and better the “inn” of the Good Samaritan who is Christ (cf. Lk 10:34), that is, the house where you can find her grace which is expressed in familiarity, in welcome, in relief. In this house you will meet people who, healed by the mercy of God in their frailty, will know how to help you carry the cross by making your own wounds in the loopholes, through which you can look at the horizon beyond the disease and receive light and air for your life.

The service of health workers, doctors, nurses, health and administrative staff, auxiliaries, volunteers who competently act by making Christ feel the presence, which offers consolation and takes care of the sick person, is part of this refreshment to the sick brothers. taking care of the wounds. But they too are men and women with their frailties and also their diseases. For them in particular, it is true that, “once we receive the refreshment and comfort of Christ, we are called in turn to become refreshment and comfort for the brothers, with a mild and humble attitude, in imitation of the Master” ( Angelus , 6 July 2014).

4. Dear health workers, every diagnostic, preventive, therapeutic, research, cure and rehabilitation intervention is aimed at the sick person, where the noun “person” always comes before the adjective “sick”. Therefore, your action is constantly extended to the dignity and life of the person, without any yielding to euthanasia, assisted suicide or suppression of life, even when the state of the disease is irreversible.

In the experience of the limit and possible failure even of medical science in the face of increasingly problematic clinical cases and inauspicious diagnoses, you are called to open yourself to the transcendent dimension, which can offer you the full meaning of your profession. Recall that life is sacred and belongs to God, therefore it is inviolable and unavailable (cf. Instruction Donum vitae , 5; Enc. Evangelium vitae, 29-53). Life must be accepted, protected, respected and served from its birth to its death: both reason and faith in God author of life require it at the same time. In some cases, conscientious objection is for you the necessary choice to remain consistent with this “yes” to life and the person. In any case, your professionalism, animated by Christian charity, will be the best service to true human right, that of life. When you cannot heal, you can always heal with gestures and procedures that give relief and relief to the patient.

Unfortunately, in some contexts of war and violent conflict, healthcare personnel and structures that deal with the reception and assistance of the sick are targeted. In some areas even political power claims to manipulate medical care in its favor, limiting the right autonomy of the healthcare profession. In reality, attacking those who are dedicated to the service of the suffering members of the social body is of no benefit to anyone.

5. On this XXVIII World Day of the Sick, I think of the many brothers and sisters who, throughout the world, do not have the opportunity to access treatment, because they live in poverty. I therefore turn to the health institutions and governments of all the countries of the world, so that, to consider the economic aspect, they do not neglect social justice. I hope that by combining the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, we will cooperate so that everyone has access to adequate care for the protection and recovery of health. I sincerely thank the volunteers who place themselves at the service of the sick, going in many cases to make up for structural deficiencies and reflecting, with gestures of tenderness and closeness, the image of Christ the Good Samaritan.

To the Virgin Mary, Health of the sick, I entrust all the people who are carrying the burden of the disease, together with their family members, as well as all the health workers. I affectionately assure you all of my closeness in prayer and I cordially send the Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 3 January 2020,
Memory of the SS. Name of Jesus