World Day of the Sick

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Homily notes of  Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin Archbishop of Dublin

Church of the Guardian Angels, Newtownpark Avenue, 9 February 2020



“The Gospel reading speaks of the disciples as being a light of the world. That is also the mission of us who are called to be followers of Jesus Christ in our day.  We are called to bring light, to shine a light of discernment on and to enlighten the world around us. We do that by the way we live. We must remember however that the light we are called to bring is not our own light, but the light of Jesus Christ that can work through us.

The first reading gives us some insight into what living that light might look like. It reminds us that there is a way in which the light can heal the wounds of darkness that are in us. It tells us, “to share our bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless poor, to clothe the man you see to be naked”. Light reaches out. We must not fall into the trap of thinking that it enough for us keep the light of Christ hidden within our own self-set frontiers.

What is this reading telling us? It tells us first of all that we have to see those who are poor, naked, and hungry. We are not called to talk about the sick, the hungry, and the homeless. We are called to see them. There are two kinds of seeing. There is a seeing, yet ignoring. There is another kind of seeing which means involvement. It is a seeing that involves not just sight but also heart. That is what the reading calls integrity.

The sick always had a special place in the mission of Jesus Christ. Everywhere he went, he healed the sick and lightened the burdens that prevented men and women from realising their dignity. When Jesus went to his own hometown, the Gospel tells us that he could not work miracles there because of their lack of faith. However, the Gospel quickly adds that he healed some sick who were there. The faith of the sick is stronger than the lack of integrity of those who felt that they have a special privileged claim on Jesus because of where they were from.

This Church where we celebrate the World Day of the Sick is called the Church of the Guardian Angels. In the Christian tradition, the teaching about Guardian Angels tell us that our God is a God who cares for each individual, and in the good times and the worst times in our lives, provides a mysterious presence by our side to accompany us and to protect us.

Our Church and we believers are called in our own way to be to guardian angels for those who silently suffer and are troubled. In our time despite the great progress of medical science, many of those who are sick suffer from a deep loneliness or abandonment or a sense of being rejected and the feeling that society simply passes them by and leaves them on their own.

We come together as a Christian community this afternoon to celebrate the World Day of the Sick and to welcome our sick brothers and sisters as privileged members of our community. We come to be with them and to support them but also to learn from them. The faith of the sick is stronger than our own sense of self-sufficiency. The faith of the sick challenges us to see where our hearts truly lie.

We live in an Ireland marked by a strange incongruence. We live in an era of astonishing progress in medical science. We have among us doctors, nurses and carers with extraordinary human qualities and dedication. Yet many aspects of our health care system are scandalous. Our extraordinary doctors, nurses, and carers feel let down. Sick children and the elderly are left waiting and exasperated. Hopefully, the many commentaries and the many promises we have heard in these election days will not remain empty words.  We have an obligation to keep our leaders to their words.

For us Christians, the unwavering love of Jesus constitutes the first service that we offer those who are sick. We are called to be beacons of light who proclaim the constant presence of the new light of Christ in our world with all its ambiguities.

At moments of darkness and turbulence, even a small light is a sign that we are moving out of darkness. Light is a reminder that hope is still possible in the darkness of distress. May the light of Christ be present here today in our solidarity with those who are sick and though the healing power of Jesus in his Sacrament of the Sick.”  ENDS