Today we have the World Day of the Sick. Not that we celebrate sickness, most of us try to avoid sickness as health is preferable to most of us, however, is it actually a very important part of our faith, our understanding of sickness and the grace that comes from it. I don’t know if it is too popular now, but we always used to hear to, “offer it up,” – your sickness or pain. Offering up your pain and suffering means that you and I can have a part in saving others through lovingly suffering for them. St Paul says that, “I make up for what is lacking in Christ’s suffering.” Christ saved us by His suffering and we can use ours to save others. This means that you and I can be other Christs. When we lovingly suffer for others, it is a powerful prayer.
How do you do this? Well, you can say a prayer when you suffer, such as, “Lord, I offer this suffering in union with your suffering for the glory of your Father in heaven and the salvation of souls.” You can offer it up for a particular soul or let God decide where it will be best used. When we feel we can’t suffer well without lots of complaining, we should pray for more love so that we can. Many souls have been saved because someone loved enough to offer up their suffering for them.
Another thing that sickness does is it shows us what matters, what is valuable in life. Often sicknesses bring out the best in the others that serve them as well. It is humiliating to be helpless at times, but we can also think that we are helping others by giving them the opportunity to serve us, which helps them to grow. Many people feel like they are a burden when they suffering, and it is sad when we think that way because it can often be a grace filled time for all around them. I have seen many people evangelize others on their sick bed. One fellow told his nurse, “Hey you have an Italian name. Does that mean you’re Catholic? Do you go to church?” The nurse said, no he didn’t, so the man invited him to church.
One of the great graces of having a Day of the Sick is to remind us that at every moment in our lives we have a part to play. Healthy or sick, God has a plan for us and a mission. I went to Lourdes and one of the most amazing things about Lourdes is how they treat the sick. In our first Mass there, I con-celebrated with several priests and bishops. Because I was near the end of the line, they let me give out Holy Communion and I got the section where the sick were. It was amazing to see these very sick people receive the Eucharist. Their whole being lit up when you brought them Jesus. It was amazing to see. Another reason why physician assisted dying is so evil is because we are playing God. We are not giving people time to complete God’s mission and make the peace they need for the healing of families.
We, as a culture, do not have the patience to wait for God ‘s plan in order to say yes to it. We don’t trust God that He knows better that we do. We must return to trust Him, especially when it comes to healing that evil.