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World Day of the Sick 2023

A Reflection on Pope Francis’ Annual Message for World Day of the Sick 2023.

Working in Catholic health care, I always look out for the pope’s annual message for World Day of the Sick (11 February). This year, Pope Francis did not dissapoint.

The parable of the good Samaritan is a classic source of reflection for those who participate in the health care ministry. Often I focus on the individual decisions & interactions in the story: the priest & Levite who kept walking and the Samaritan who stopped to help. I like how Francis offers a new angle of reflection by pointing to the supportive structure that is required for healing.

”…the conclusion of the parable of the Good Samaritan suggests how the exercise of fraternity, which began as a face-to-face encounter, can be expanded into organized care. The elements of the inn, the innkeeper, the money and the promise to remain informed of the situation (cf. Lk 10:34-35) all point to the commitment of healthcare and social workers, family members and volunteers, through whom good stands up in the face of evil every day, in every part of the world.”

The structure of available housing (the inn & inkeeper), the ability to pay for services (the money), and the need to support recovery (promise to remain informed) point to the necessity of these supportive structures.

I’m particularly aware of-and thankful for-all the people “behind the scenes” in health care. At an average community hospital, there are thousands of people indirectly serving the needs of the sick. So, thank you to the physicians, nurses, and care-givers that directly serve patients. And thank you especially to all those supporting the structures of care that the patient will never see.