On January 29, in the John Paul II Hall of the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present the Holy Father’s message for the 21st World Day of the Sick (7–11 February) and the celebrations for the Day that will take place in Altotting, Bavaria, Germany. Participating in the press conference were: Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers along with Msgr. Jean-Marie Mate Musivi Mupendawatu and Fr. Augusto Chendi, M.I., respectively secretary and under-secretary of that same dicastery; Msgr. Ludwig Limbrunner, rector of the shrine to Our Lady of Altotting, Bavaria, Germany; and Rev. Janusz Surzykiewicz, professor of pastoral theology at the Catholic University of Eichstatt in Bavaria, Germany. The Message is entitled:”Go and Do Likewise”.
This day, Archbishop Zimowski explained, is “a unique moment of reflection, of renewed attention and commitment, on behalf of everyone, to all to the problems inherent to caring for life, health, and suffering. In particular, the Holy Father … emphasizes that its celebration should be strongly characterized by prayer, sharing, and offering up suffering for the good of the Church, as well as serving as a call so that everyone might recognize, in the face of their sick brother or sister, the face of Christ who, suffering, dying, and rising, saved humanity.”
The Pope’s text challenges us “to let the figure of the Good Samaritan call to us”. It is a Gospel narrative that constitutes a “parable that is paradigmatic and ever-topical for all of the Church’s action, especially her outreach in the area of health, disease, and suffering.” In the story “Jesus, with his actions and words, reveals God’s deep love for every human being, above all those suffering illness or pain.” The Pope, however, “puts the emphasis on the end of the parable when Jesus … concludes with an urgent mandate: ‘Go and do likewise’.”
“This is,” the archbishop continued, “an incisive mandate because with these words Jesus shows us what, even today, the attitude and behavior of His disciples with others, especially those in need of care, must be. Looking to how Christ acted, therefore, we can understand God’s infinite love, can feel ourselves to be part of this love, and sent to show it with our care and our closeness to all those in need of help because of being wounded in body and in spirit. But this capacity to love cannot come solely from our efforts, but rather is born of our being in constant relationship with Christ through a life of faith. From this stems the call and the duty of each Christian to be a ‘Good Samaritan’, who … is everyone who stops at the suffering of another, everyone who is sensitive to the suffering of others, everyone who is moved by the misfortunes of others, everyone who wants to try and be ‘God’s hands’.”
“Before concluding his message, the Holy Father pointed out the Year of Faith as ‘a propitious occasion for rediscovering the Good Samaritan and of living in imitation of him’: in imitation of his knowing how ‘to see with compassion’ and love someone who needed care and assistance; in his knowing how to bend down and pick up the needs of others’. …This is why it is useful to ‘turn our gaze’ to the many witnesses to the faith and their charitable self-giving. It can be said that the entire history of the Church … is marked by countless witnesses. The Pope indicates some of those who are closest to us in time: St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face; the venerable Luigi Novarese; Raoul Follereau; Blessed Teresa of Calcutta; and St. Anna Schaffer of Mindelstetten.”
“Blessed John Paul II, in the section of his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris referencing the Good Samaritan, wrote: ‘At one and the same time Christ has taught man to do good by His suffering and to do good to those who suffer. In this double aspect He has completely revealed the meaning of suffering.’ In naming five Good Samaritans who are close to us in history, Benedict XVI takes into consideration both dimensions: St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face and St. Anna Schaffer do good out of their own suffering while the other three witnesses do good for those who are suffering.”