THE Pope has called on mankind to make 2016 a special year of mercy and compassion. Yesterday, Ash Wednesday, Christendom entered the Season of Lent, a season that calls for us the faithful to identify with the Lord Jesus Christ who suffered and died for our redemption.
How about making it your Lenten mortification to be closer to the sick in your family, clan and neighborhood.
What does mortification mean? It is to lose oneself–in a sense, to die, doing a sacrifice for the good of others just as Jesus Christ did.
One is not asked to literally offer up one’s life in a bloody sacrifice on the cross. Spiritual writers and sages tell us that it is enough to mortify oneself in little ways–to carry only many light crosses, like making the sacrifice of being kind and caring to a sick relative or friend. Such small mortifications as spending an hour cheering up a bed-ridden relation or neighbor, forgoing an entertainment or a meal and using the money saved to help the sick, earn much merit. And, you know what? You discover that these acts of mortification make you feel good and lose your anxieties over problems that have been oppressing you so much for days on end.
24th World Day of the Sick
Today, February 11, 2016, is the 24th World Day of the Sick. It was started by Saint John Paul II as a way for believers to identify with and offer prayers for those suffering from illnesses. The day coincides with the commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes, whose miracles with St. Bernadette, have focused mainly on curing the sick–physically and spiritually.
For today’s World Day of the Sick, His Holiness Pope Francis prepared a special message. Here are the opening words of that message:
“Dear Brothers and Sisters: The twenty-fourth World Day of the Sick offers me an opportunity to draw particularly close to you, dear friends who are ill, and to those who care for you.
“This year, since the Day of the Sick will be solemnly celebrated in the Holy Land, I wish to propose a meditation on the Gospel account of the wedding feast of Cana (Jn 2: 1-11), where Jesus performed his first miracle through the intervention of his Mother. The theme chosen – Entrusting Oneself to the Merciful Jesus like Mary: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5) is quite fitting in light of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
“The main Eucharistic celebration of the Day will take place on 11 February 2016, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, in Nazareth itself, where “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). In Nazareth, Jesus began his salvific mission, applying to himself the words of the Prophet Isaiah, as we are told by the Evangelist Luke: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Lk 4:18-19).
“Illness, above all grave illness, always places human existence in crisis and brings with it questions that dig deep. Our first response may at times be one of rebellion: Why has this happened to me? We can feel desperate, thinking that all is lost, that things no longer have meaning…
“In these situations, faith in God is on the one hand tested, yet at the same time can reveal all of its positive resources. Not because faith makes illness, pain, or the questions which they raise, disappear, but because it offers a key by which we can discover the deepest meaning of what we are experiencing; a key that helps us to see how illness can be the way to draw nearer to Jesus who walks at our side, weighed down by the Cross. And this key is given to us by Mary, our Mother, who has known this way at first hand.”