One of the very important Corporal Works of Mercy is to Visit the Sick. How many people are suffering from various illnesses, from cancer, or from accidents today! Many people who are ill suffer from loneliness as well. There are many elderly persons whose families live far away from them. Others have family in the area, but they seldom make the time to visit. It is so easy for us to get so caught up in the busyness of our world today that we forget about those who are suffering from illness — whether they suffer in their own homes, or in a nursing home, or a hospital.
Our Lord Jesus says: “I was ill, and you visited me” to the people that He welcomes into the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 25). On the other hand, those who are condemned to eternal damnation are told (among other things), that they did not visit Jesus in the sick. If we wish to be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven, it would be a good thing for us to be mindful of those who suffer, and to make time to visit and comfort them.
We have many examples of Saints who excelled in their loving care for the sick and suffering: St. Frances of Rome, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Hedwig, St. Damian of Molokai, St. Marianne Cope, St. Peter Clavier — just to name a few. And who could forget the wonderful example in our own time of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta? These saints give us a wonderful example to follow of always seeing the Lord Jesus in those who are suffering. So, whether we devote our entire lives to the service of the sick, or we simply try to visit them whenever we can, let us always see the Lord Jesus in the suffering faces of His beloved children who are sick and suffering!
Here are a few ideas that we might try during this upcoming Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy:
- Make regular visits to a family member who is ill, home-bound or in a nursing home.
- Get the name of a fellow parishioner who is sick or home-bound, and begin to visit that person regularly. If you don’t know what to say, how about praying with him or her? Or doing some house cleaning for him?
- If you have musical talents, how about using them for providing some entertainment at a nursing home?
- How about bringing children to a nursing home, or to visit a shut-in? The elderly often love to see children, and it is a good thing for children to be mindful of the elderly and their needs.
May the Lord Jesus, who we visit in the sick, bless each of us as we practice this important Work of Mercy!