Word in Other Words for Saturday 4th Week of Lent
By Fr Arnold Biago SVD
I spent several years as young and new missionary in Congo working in a parish. One of the challenging and difficult work we regularly do is to visit the sick and old members of our basic ecclesial communities. Since most of them are bed-ridden, and home care is wanting, they live an extremely desolate situation. As a new priest then, I do not know most of them. But wherever, I would come to give the sacrament of the sick, I could clearly sense their joy to welcome the priest and great longing to receive the blessing and holy communion. Indeed, literally, Jesus came to see the sick.
As a priest, I find great fulfillment participating in this ministry of Jesus towards the sick. I am not a healing priest, I have not heard any of the sick I visited healed. In fact most of them died, and I presided their burial mass. I did not fail them. On the contrary, the family was sincerely grateful for the presence of a priest and the celebration of the sacrament. I do not claim all the gratitude for me alone, but attribute them all to Jesus who created this ministry of service towards the least, particularly the sick as he implied in Matthew 25, 36: “I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick, and you took care of me.”
Sin makes a person spiritually sick and sometimes even physically sick. Sin makes a person live in desolation and misery cut off from the grace of God. But there is hope, Jesus himself comes and even seeks sinners to bring them to repentance. Jesus said, in today’s Gospel, “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” (Luke 5, 32).
Oftentimes, sin overwhelms and buries profoundly a person to the point of saying that, “I am hopeless.” “I cannot do it.” Yet Jesus will not get tired to pull him or her out. Remember St Paul who said: where sin abounds, grace abounds even more (Romans 5, 20). Peter did the most horrible thing of denying Jesus. Yet when he repented, the Lord Jesus forgave him and sent him to serve the Church.
Lord Jesus, have mercy on us, sinners! Transform us with your love. Amen.