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World Day of the Sick – 11 February 2024

Earlier this year, the Vatican published Pope Francis’ message for the 32nd World Day of the Sick, celebrated each year on February 11. The Holy Father’s message for this year is entitled: “It is not good that man should be alone” – Caring for the sick by caring for relationships. Echoing the Holy Father’s message, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) renews its commitment to prayer and accompaniment of the sick. Pope Francis reminds us of the fundamental importance of human relationships in the process of healing and comforting the sick.

The Holy Father refers to the biblical passage from the Book of Genesis, emphasizing that God created man by endowing him with vital relationships, and that loneliness, the result of sin, can lead to suffering and isolation. Pope Francis’ message urges us to care for relationships with compassion and tenderness, while recalling the example of the Good Samaritan who approached his neighbor with deep compassion. The Holy Father also stresses that the sick, the fragile and the poor must be at the heart of the Church and at the center of our pastoral concerns.

The World Day of the Sick offers us another opportunity to pray for all those who suffer, and to reflect on our commitment to them.


Source: Text:    Image: Vatican News

4th Sunday of Easter, Year A

If I pronounce the words: ‘The voice’, probably quite a few people will think of the television programme by this name.
One characteristic of the programme is that those who are to judge the performers do not see them – they only hear, yes, their voices.

This came to my mind when reading the gospel of this 4th Sunday of Easter (Year A, Jn.10:1-10).
One verse of the text says precisely:

“The shepherd goes in front of them and the sheep follow
because they know his voice.”
We know that – figuratively speaking, of course – we are the sheep that the Lord is leading, his followers.
But, could he say the same of us?…
Could he say that we know his voice?

Do we recognize it?
Can we identify this sound of his, calling us…
Trying to gain our attention, speaking to us personally…
And that, in the midst of so many other voices reaching us through the day?

The voices of our relatives demanding our help or giving us advice…
That of our friends and neighbours asking for assistance or offering suggestions…
The sounds of our colleagues coaxing us into doing, or not doing something…
And… the inner voices that have become part of our personality – that of our values, convictions, or… prejudices…
And, of course, the ever-present voices of publicity, propaganda, persuasive as they are…
So many voices!

What about HIS own – is it drowned in all of the surrounding sounds, becoming hardly a whisper?…
True – like the judges of the television programme – we do not, we cannot, see him.

Yet, he keeps on providing us with inspiration and guidance.
His voice… with his unique accent – altogether caring, comforting, challenging…
Could he really say that WE know his voice?

Source: Image: NCB Blog

5th Sunday of the Year, A

Have you ever said to yourself: ‘If only I knew what God expects from me!’
The 1st reading of this Sunday (5th of Year A – Is.58:7-10) answers this desire.

The very first line says :
“It is the Lord who speaks…”
The prophet Isaiah, God’s messenger, reveals to us what God wants from us:

“Share your bread with the hungry,
and shelter the homeless poor,
clothe the man you see to be naked,
and give relief to the oppressed.”

It is clear and simple, but very demanding indeed!
Not to try and escape, not to do as if I had not seen, not to pretend I have not noticed.

The temptation is always there: to mind my own business, not to meddle with what concerns other people.

And if ‘what concerns other people’ – their needs, their situation of want, their lack of this or that – should become ‘my own business’!…
This is exactly what these words of the Lord demand of me.

We are inclined to protest: “There are so many people in need, they are always there… “
Their presence annoys us sometimes, their persistence irritates us.

‘We can’t help everybody!’ – ‘No, for sure…’
‘Impossible to come to the aid of everyone!’ – ‘Obviously!… But perhaps… one at a time…’

And beyond the material assistance, there is the understanding look, the attentive listening, the comforting reply…

And the word of the Lord asking that we do something,
this demanding word which exacts what we hesitate to give,
this word bears a promise:

“Cry, and the Lord will answer;
call, and he will say : ‘I am here’!”

Source: Images: colourbox; Daily Mail