Our society strives to block out the sick and suffering; to hide away from the reality of eventual death and judgment. It is no wonder that the sick and elderly are locked away lest many in our society be upset. One lady I know in my neighbourhood exemplifies this: she refuses to see her sick mother because it is too disturbing, too (so she tells me) upsetting. This may well be so. But one cannot hide from illness, suffering. One must face it as a cross to carry.
The Holy Father has just released his message for the World Day for the Sick. In part the letter reads:
The Gospel parable recounted by Saint Luke is part of a series of scenes and events taken from daily life by which Jesus helps us to understand the deep love of God for every human being, especially those afflicted by sickness or pain. With the concluding words of the parable of the Good Samaritan, “Go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37), the Lord also indicates the attitude that each of his disciples should have towards others, especially those in need. We need to draw from the infinite love of God, through an intense relationship with him in prayer, the strength to live day by day with concrete concern, like that of the Good Samaritan, for those suffering in body and spirit who ask for our help, whether or not we know them and however poor they may be. This is true, not only for pastoral or health care workers, but for everyone, even for the sick themselves, who can experience this condition from a perspective of faith: “It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love” (Spe Salvi, 37).