“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest…”
“In Him, you will find strength to face all the worries and questions that assail you…”
“Life must be welcomed, protected, respected and served from its beginning to its end: both human reason and faith in God, the author of life, require this…”
This is at the heart of the Holy Father’s Message for the 28th World Day of the Sick, titled: ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest (Mt 11:28).’ It was signed by Francis today, January 3, 2020, the Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, and published by the Vatican.
The World Day is held annually on February 11, the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Reflecting on Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel passage, Francis says: “These words of Christ express the solidarity of the Son of Man with all those who are hurt and afflicted.”
Jesus Promises Comfort & Repose
“How many people suffer in both body and soul!,” the Holy Father lamented, reminding: “Jesus urges everyone to draw near to Him – “Come to me!” – and He promises them comfort and repose.”
On this World Day of the Sick, the Pope said, Jesus repeats these words to the sick, the oppressed, and the poor.
The Holy Father pray they realize “that they depend entirely on God and, beneath the burden of their trials, stand in need of his healing.” Jesus, he explained, “does not make demands of those who endure situations of frailty, suffering and weakness, but offers His mercy and His comforting presence.”
The Pope tells the ill how Jesus looks at a “wounded humanity” with eyes “that gaze into the heart of each person.”
His Gaze Embraces Everyone in Their Entirety
That gaze, he underscored, is not one of indifference, but rather one which embraces “people in their entirety, each person in his or her health condition, discarding no one, but rather inviting everyone to share in his life and to experience his tender love.”
The Jesuit Pope said Jesus has these feelings since He Himself “became frail, endured human suffering and received comfort from His Father.”
“What is needed,” the Jesuit Pope observed, “is a personalized approach to the sick, not just of curing but also of caring, in view of an integral human healing.”
Appealing to all “dear brothers and sisters who are ill,” Pope Francis said: “your sickness makes you in a particular way one of those ‘who labor and are burdened,’ and thus attract the eyes and heart of Jesus.”
You Will Find Strength to Face All the Worries and Questions
“In Him,” he added, “you will find light to brighten your darkest moments and hope to soothe your distress. He urges you: “Come to me.” In Him, you will find strength to face all the worries and questions that assail you during this “dark night” of body and soul. Christ did not give us prescriptions, but through His Passion, Death and Resurrection, He frees us from the grip of evil.”
The Pope acknowledged how the ill all need a special place to rest.
The Pope also addressed special words of encouragement to healthcare workers, at all levels, reminding them how they can “make patients feel the presence of Christ who consoles and cares for the sick, and heals every hurt.”
“Dear healthcare professionals,” he stressed, “let us always remember that diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic treatments, research, care and rehabilitation are always in the service of the sick person; indeed the noun “person” takes priority over the adjective “sick”. In your work, may you always strive to promote the dignity and life of each person, and reject any compromise in the direction of euthanasia, assisted suicide or suppression of life, even in the case of terminal illness.”
“When confronted with the limitations and even failures of medical science before increasingly problematic clinical cases and bleak diagnoses,” the Pope urged, “you are called to be open to the transcendent dimension of your profession that reveals its ultimate meaning.”
“Let us remember,” he continued, “that life is sacred and belongs to God; hence it is inviolable and no one can claim the right to dispose of it freely.”
Life Is Sacred & Belongs to God, It Cannot Be Disposed Of
“Life,” Pope Francis underscored, “must be welcomed, protected, respected and served from its beginning to its end: both human reason and faith in God, the author of life, require this.”
Remembering those worldwide who have no access to medical care due to poverty and war, Pope Francis entrusted to “the Blessed Virgin Mary, Health of the Sick,” all those “who bear the burden of illness, along with their families and all healthcare workers.”
Assuring them they would be in his prayers, Francis cordially imparted his Apostolic Blessing.
Full Message on ZENIT’s Site: