Pope Francis’s Synodal Message on World Day of the Sick

Saturday 11th February 2023

World Day of the Sick takes place today, Saturday 11 February 2023. This day of awareness is an opportunity to consider how we can be attentive towards the sick and their carers. It’s also an invitation for us to encourage wider society to engage with the vulnerable in a loving way.

World Day of the Sick is also an occasion to celebrate the amazing work done by Catholic healthcare organisations in the face of poverty, inequality, and pandemic.

Walking with the Sick

This year’s theme calls us to: “take care of him” (Lk 10:35) – a quote taken from the parable of the Good Samaritan. Pope Francis discusses this theme in his latest letter, emphasising the synodal importance of walking with the sick:

‘The fact that the man, beaten and robbed, is abandoned on the side of the road represents the condition in which all too many of our brothers and sisters are left at a time when they most need help.’

The Holy Father tells us that ‘it is especially through the experience of vulnerability and illness that we can learn to walk together according to the style of God, which is closeness, compassion, and tenderness.’

Finding Fraternity in the Good Samaritan

Pope Francis explains how the parable of the Good Samaritan instructs us to accompany those in need, acting with fraternal compassion:

‘Two travellers, considered pious and religious, see the wounded man, yet fail to stop. The third passer-by, however, a Samaritan, a scorned foreigner, is moved with compassion and takes care of that stranger on the road, treating him as a brother. In doing so, without even thinking about it, he makes a difference, he makes the world more fraternal.’

The fraternal love shown by the Samaritan is a powerful blueprint for the Catholic commitment to healthcare:

‘The elements of the inn, the innkeeper, the money, and the promise to remain informed of the situation (cf. Lk 10:34-35) all point to the commitment of healthcare and social workers, family members and volunteers, through whom good stands up in the face of evil every day, in every part of the world.’

Pope Francis tells us that the Samaritan’s call to the innkeeper to “take care of him” (Lk 10:35) is an invitation from Jesus to our entire world to “go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37). As Catholics, it is our duty not just to walk with and care for the sick individually, but to advocate for the sick on a societal level.

To read the full letter from Pope Francis, click here.

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