Thursday, February 11, 2021, marks the 29th World Day of the Sick, and this year’s theme comes from the Gospel of Matthew, “You have but one teacher and you are all brothers (Mt 23:8): A trust-based relationship to guide care for the sick.” Pope Francis refers to this special day, the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes, as “an opportunity to devote special attention to the sick and to those who provide them with assistance and care both in healthcare institutions and within families and communities.” He expresses his spiritual closeness and the Church’s concern for those suffering in this coronavirus pandemic, especially the poor and the marginalized. You can read Pope Francis’ entire message for World Day of the Sick on the Vatican Website.
Redeeming Value of Suffering
Jesus accepted his suffering and death, not only to be obedient to the Father but because he knew his suffering was not in vain, that it had a redeeming value. He offered himself to the Father as a gift for us. Since his sacrifice and death were so perfectly accepted by the father, he was rewarded with the resurrection. His suffering and death were not useless, meaningless, or without purpose.
None of us likes to suffer; however, it is a reality in our lives. Unfortunately, many do not know how to offer it to God, therefore giving it purpose and value. In embracing our suffering, we learn how to suffer, how to turn our suffering into a prayer, and most importantly, how to trust in God.
God does not delight in seeing his children suffer; it is, however, part of our fallen nature and the condition of sin within our world. Suffering is not punishment for personal sin. Nor is suffering the product of a sadistic god who delights in making creatures and then destroying them. At the deepest level, suffering is the effect of sin, not only personal but original sin.
Suffering remains the enigma it has always been. It is our Christian faith that can bring enlightenment and assurance along the way. If we are honest enough, our suffering confronts our pride, self-righteousness, independence, selfishness, and our self-reliance. I am sure we all know or have heard of someone who underwent suffering and came out of it saying, “I am a better person, I see life differently.”
On this World Day of the Sick, may we pray for those who carry the burden of illness and their caretakers. Additionally, may we use this day to reflect on our suffering, asking the Holy Spirit for the faith to allow it to be transformed into a redeeming grace in our lives.
National Marriage Week
National Marriage Week: To Have, To Hold, To Honor, sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and their initiative For Your Marriage, runs from February 7-14, 2021. This annual observance is an excellent opportunity for people to reflect on the gift that marriage is to our Church and our country; it also offers resources for couples to focus time and attention on their marriages.
On Saturday, February 13th, the Office of Faith Formation will offer Celebrate Marriage: An Enrichment Day for Married Couples. Celebrate Marriage is a one-day marriage enrichment that offers time to look at where you are in your marriage, improve basic communication skills, and revisit memories of your life together as a married couple. This time together, featuring talks and exercises, helps couples focus on how to celebrate the importance and dignity of the Sacrament of Matrimony in God’s plan for us. This virtual event, presented by Worldwide Marriage Encounter, will occur between 9 am and 4:30 pm. Visit the Marriage Enrichment website for more information or to register for the event.
Please know of my continued prayers for each of you, especially anyone battling with or caring for those with Covid-19. May our prayers this World Day of the Sick bring comfort to many.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha