Our lives, reflect the image of the Trinity. We are meant to attain fulfilment through a network of relationships, friendships and love, both given and received. We were created to be together, not alone. It is not good to be alone.
The Message from Pope Francis, for the World Day of the Sick on Sunday, 11th February (the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes) addresses the reality of so many lives, and how so many experience abandonment and solitude as something frightening, painful and even inhuman. For example, many found themselves terribly alone during the Covid-19 pandemic: patients who could not receive visitors, but also the many nurses, physicians and support personnel overwhelmed by work and enclosed in isolation wards. Naturally, we cannot fail to recall all those persons who had to face the hour of their death alone, assisted by healthcare personnel, but far from their own families.
Pope Francis also cites War and its consequences as ‘the most terrible of social diseases, that takes its greatest toll on those who are most vulnerable’.
In addition as one expression of our throwaway culture “persons are no longer seen as of paramount value to be cared for and respected, especially when they are poor or disabled, ‘not yet useful’ – like the unborn, or ‘no longer needed’ – like the elderly” (Fratelli Tutti, 18). Sadly, this way of thinking also guides certain political decisions that are not focused on the dignity of the human person and his or her needs, and do not always promote the strategies and resources needed to ensure that every human being enjoys the fundamental right to health and access to healthcare.
It is not good to be alone
“It is not good for man to be alone!” God spoke those words at the beginning of creation and revealed to us the profound meaning of his project for humanity”.
Brothers and sisters, the first form of care needed in any illness is compassionate and loving closeness. To care for the sick means above all to care for their relationships, all of them: with God, with others – family members, friends, healthcare workers – , with creation and with themselves.
Can this be done?
Yes, it can be done and all of us are called to ensure that it happens. Let us look to the icon of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37), to his ability to slow down and draw near to another person, to the tender love with which he cares for the wounds of a suffering brother.
Let us remember this central truth in life: we came into the world because someone welcomed us; we were made for love; and we are called to communion and fraternity. This aspect of our lives is what sustains us, above all at times of illness and vulnerability. It is also the first therapy that we must all adopt in order to heal the diseases of the society in which we live.
At this time of epochal change, we Christians in particular are called to adopt the compassion-filled gaze of Jesus. Let us care for those who suffer and are alone, perhaps marginalised and cast aside.
With the love for one another that Christ the Lord bestows on us in prayer, especially in the Eucharist, let us tend the wounds of solitude and isolation. In this way, we will co-operate in combating the culture of individualism, indifference and waste, and enable the growth of a culture of tenderness and compassion.
The sick, the vulnerable and the poor are at the heart of the Church; they must also be at the heart of our human concern and pastoral attention. May we never forget this! And let us commend ourselves to Mary Most Holy, Health of the Sick, that she may intercede for us and help us to be artisans of closeness and fraternal relationships.[The text used is from the Message-of-Pope-Francis-for-World-Day-of-the-Sick-2024
“It is not good that man should be alone”. Healing the Sick by Healing Relationships (Rome, Saint John Lateran, 10 January 2024)]