In 1992, Pope St. John Paul II designated February 11th to be World Day of the Sick and intentionally set it as the same day of the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes.
The spring which appeared in Lourdes, France in 1858 is known for its miraculous healings since Mary’s appearance. There is an estimated six million pilgrims who travel to Lourdes every year, many of whom are “assisted pilgrims” who are officially sick or have a disability and have family or friends who journey with them to this holy place. Many pilgrims have experienced deep suffering and have wrestled with God as to ‘why suffering exists.’ You do not have to be a pilgrim in Lourdes to ponder this question.
In our life experiences we see that “human suffering evokes compassion; it also evokes respect, and in its own way it intimidates” (Pope John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, no. 3). It is okay to experience all three of these responses to our suffering of family, friends, and even strangers – the question is how do we respond to the suffering we encounter?
The simple yet profound answer is – love – for “everyone who stops beside the suffering of another person, whatever for it may take, is a Good Samaritan” (Salvifici Doloris, no. 28). The Good Samaritan treats the victim with “true humanism, which acknowledges that man is made in the image of God and wants to help him to live in a way consonant with that dignity” (Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 30b).
At Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas we are truly striving to live from a place of encountering with Love, so as to walk with all of our neighbors in need. Take time this week to see how you are answering the call to love.
Read: The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
- How am I similar to the Good Samaritan?
- Where do I still have room to grow?
- How am I being called to love?
You teach us in your parable that there are two kinds of people—
—those who bend down to help and those who look the other way.
Which kind of people will we be?
We say, “Yes, Lord, I will love you and love my neighbor.”
But then we ask:
The migrant… is she my neighbor?
Those in poverty…are they my neighbors?
Victims of war across the world…are they neighbors?
One who faces racism…is he my neighbor?
Those disabled or elderly…are they my neighbors?
You remind us: Yes. All of us neighbors.
Show us how to love, Lord.
May we open our eyes.
May we emerge from our comfortable isolation.
May we build a world of compassion and dignity.
Lord Jesus, who was neighbor to all,
Help us to persevere in love.
Help us to restore dignity to the suffering.
Help us to build a society based not on exclusion, but on community.
Prayer Credit: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)