Be Merciful, Just as Your Father is Merciful (LK 6:36)
30th World Day of the Sick
On the occasion of the World Day of the Sick, Pope Francis, in his message, writes: “The theme chosen for this day, ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful‘ (Lk 6:36), directs our gaze first of all to God, ‘rich in mercy’ (Eph 2:4), who always looks upon his children with a father’s love, even when they stray from him. In fact, mercy is, the name of God, which expresses his nature, not in the manner of an occasional feeling, but as a force present in all that he accomplishes. He is both strength and tenderness. The theme of this day presents us with a comforting image of God, a God full of mercy, tenderness and forgiveness. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus reveals this face of the Father to us by healing all the sick people he meets on his way. God sent his Son not to judge the world but to save it, so that we may have life in fullness, says Saint John. Today Jesus invites us to act like God himself: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
This word of Jesus was familiar to Brother André. In his long moments of prayer, he meditated at length on the Passion of the Lord Jesus. He discovered to what extent he was loved and to what extent God loved all human beings, so much so that his Son took upon himself all the sufferings of men in order to make life spring forth in abundance. It is a word that comforts and enables us to hold on; a word that transforms and disturbs, but also a word that gives life and hope.
In the intimacy of his heart, Brother André welcomes this Word of God. He acquires this certainty: he cannot listen to God without also listening to others, their needs, their sufferings, because God also wants to reach them with his love. And to do this, God needs him. A witness, Émile Gadbois, knew Brother André when he was a student in pharmacy. He says, “The poor knew that they could approach Brother André with confidence and that they would be received with kindness.”
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,” these words were at the heart of Saint Brother André’s life. Without tiring, he welcomed thousands of pilgrims who came to him to share their sufferings, their needs, their search for God. It was his life, his whole life. Like that of Jesus. The most extraordinary thing is that it continues to this day. Brother André sows hope. His action no longer has any boundaries. He became the patron saint of caregivers in Canada shortly after his canonization.
In his message, Pope Francis spoke of the many patients who, during the pandemic, lived the last part of their lives in the solitude of an intensive care unit, but far from the people who were most important to them. Hence the importance of having witnesses of God’s charity who, like Jesus, bring them comfort and hope. He emphasized and congratulated the important mission of all health care personnel and all those who help the sick.
At the end of his message, Pope Francis reminds us that visiting the sick is an invitation that Christ extends to all his disciples. The ministry of compassion is a duty of every baptized person, remembering Jesus’ words: “I was sick and you visited me. (Mt 25:36)
Following the example of Saint Brother André who all his life welcomed and visited the sick with compassion, let us allow the love of Christ to fill our hearts and lives so that we may truly become the face of God for others. May Saint Brother André, together with Mary and Joseph, accompany us on this journey of life.