On Saturday, following his meeting with the clergy at the Cathedral, Pope Francis made his way to the Basilica of Gesu Nuovo where he met with the sick.
Here is a translation of the words Pope Francis addressed to those present.
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It’s not easy to approach a sick person. The most beautiful things of life and the most miserable things are modest; they are hidden. Out of modesty one seeks to hide the greatest love; and the things that show our human misery, we also seek to hide it. Therefore, to meet a sick person, one must go to him, because life’s modesty hides him. We must seek the sick person. And when there are sicknesses that last a lifetime, when we meet with sicknesses that mark a whole life, we prefer to hide them, because to go to meet the sick person is to go to meet our own sickness, the one we have within. It is to have the courage to say to oneself: I also have a sickness in my heart, in my soul, in my spirit ; I am also a spiritually sick person.
God created us to change the world, to be efficient, to master Creation: it’s our task. However, when we find ourselves before a sickness, we see that this sickness impedes this: that man, that woman who was born like this, or whose body has become like this, is a saying “no” – it seems – to the mission to transform the world. This is the mystery of sickness. One can only approach a sickness in a spirit of faith. We can well approach a sick man, woman, boy or girl only if we look at Him who took upon himself all our sicknesses, if we make a habit of looking at the Crucified Christ. The only explanation of this “failure,” of this human failure, of a life-long sickness is there. The only explanation is in Christ Crucified.
To you, sick, I say if you cannot understand the Lord, I ask the Lord to make you understand in your heart that you are the flesh of Christ, that you are Christ Crucified among us, that you are the brothers who are very close to Christ. It is one thing to look at a Crucifix and quite another to look at a sick man, woman, child, who is, crucified there in their sickness: they are the living flesh of Christ.
To you, volunteers, thank you so much! Thank you so much for spending your time caressing the flesh of Christ, serving Christ Crucified, alive. Thank you! And I also say thank you to you, doctors, and nurses. Thank you for doing this work, thank you for not making of your profession a business. Thank you to so many of you who follow the example of the Saint who is here, who worked here in Naples: to serve without enriching oneself from the service. When medicine is transformed in commerce, in business, it is like the priesthood when it acts in the same way: it loses the kernel of the vocation.
To all of you Christians of this diocese of Naples I ask that you not forget what Jesus asked us and which is also written in the “protocol” on which we will be judged: I was sick and you visited me (Cf. Matthew 25:36). We will be judged on this. The world of sickness is a world of pain. The sick suffer, they mirror the suffering Christ: there is no need to feel fear to approach the suffering Christ. Thank you so much for all that you do. And let us pray that all the Christians of the diocese are more conscious of this and let us pray that the Lord may give you, and to the many volunteers, perseverance in this service of caressing the suffering flesh of Christ. Thank you.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]