Reflection on Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of the Sick, 11 February 2016

By Dr Michael Tan

For the diocesan World Day of the Sick Mass at St Patrick’s Church in Blacktown on 11 February 2016, Pope Francis has invited us to meditate on the Marriage feast of Cana, with the theme: Entrusting Oneself to the Merciful Jesus like Mary: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5).

Mary is presented as the thoughtful and hospitable woman who swiftly and discreetly responds to the serious problem of the wedding feast running out of wine.

Her intercession arises out of a heart of mercy and compassion, founded on a lifetime of pondering many things in her heart, both joyful and sorrowful. In interceding with her son, her only request to us is to “do whatever he tells you.”

In response to Mary’s request, our care, whether personal, voluntary or professional, is performed in obedience to her son, and are acts of mercy and hospitality towards the sick.

In responding to his mother’s intercession by transforming water into the new wine of the kingdom, Jesus reveals to us the face of the Father of mercy and compassion, who sends His only Son on a mission.

This is a mission of love – a love that heals our brokenness, illnesses and sicknesses. This healing is a means towards an end – that of our salvation, and the fullness of life to which all of us are called.

The healing which Jesus brings about in our lives is most evident at the foot of the Cross. On the Cross, Jesus reminds us that healing does not mean that all illness, suffering and death are removed from our lives. The crucified Christ and the risen Christ are one and the same person.

Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus Himself asks of us: “what are these matters that you are discussing?” In sharing of our doubts, struggles, grief and turmoil, we gradually came to recognise Him at the breaking of bread.

It is noteworthy that at the end of the story, the disciples are no longer sad and grief-stricken when Jesus disappears once again, since they would continue to enter into communion with Him at each future breaking of bread.

To conclude, Jesus continues to invite us to gather around the altar of suffering, recognise Him at the breaking of bread, and to entrust our grief and suffering to the intercession of His mother.

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