Daily Reflections

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Sickness and Suffering are never wasted

February 11, 2019

GOSPEL:  MARK 6:53-56


Today’s Gospel presents us with the picture of a merciful and compassionate Jesus, a Jesus who is attentive to all those who are sick and suffering.  Jesus’ reputation as a healer spread like wildfire so that whenever Jesus entered their area, people “scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard He was.”  The Gospels are filled with healing stories.

Jesus’ ministry of caring for the sick and suffering has been handed down to His Church. From the earliest centuries of its life down to this present time, the Church has tended to the care of the sick and sought to alleviate human suffering.  We see this in the Church’s teachings and in the countless health care and social institutions founded and supported by the Church throughout the world. In the widely publicized statement of Pope Francis, the Church is a “field hospital.” The Church exists for others.  The Church is the suffering Body of Christ.

Today is designated by the Church as the World Day of the Sick.  On May 13, 1992, Pope St. John Paul II directed that this celebration take place each year on the commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes for all believers as “a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one’s sufferings.”  At this time the Pope was already diagnosed with the beginnings of Parkinson’s disease.  He had written much on the salvific value of suffering – that no suffering united with the sufferings of Jesus on the Cross is meaningless.  In fact, one’s sufferings united with Jesus play an important part in the redemption of humankind. Nothing is wasted.  No suffering is wasted when brought to the foot of the Cross.

Sickness and sufferings in themselves are evils, and we ought to do our best to eradicate them.  However, there are sicknesses and sufferings that we cannot control.  We can be bitter and angry over these situations or we can place them in God’s Hands.  The Theology of Redemptive Suffering is not necessarily a popular one but it is reality for people of faith.  I have witnessed this many times in my years of ministry.  Recently, a woman who is suffering horribly from cancer told me that she is offering up her sufferings for those who suffer from drug addiction.  I cannot believe that this is wasted.  Somehow in someway, her sufferings are playing a role in God’s on-going drama of salvation.  To the unbeliever, it may seem like foolishness but to the believer, nothing is wasted.

Brother Andre Mathieu, C.P.