World Day of Sick – 11th February
February 11th is the World Day of the Sick. It is a day we are encouraged to pray for the sick and suffering along with those in the health care service who spend their days working to restore the strength and health of those afflicted.
The theme of World Day of Sick 2021 is “You have but one teacher and you are all brothers”. The theme of this Day is drawn from the Gospel passage in which Jesus criticizes the hypocrisy of those who fail to practice what they preach (cf. Mt 23:1-12).
Since 1992, Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI have called the worldwide Church to raise its awareness of the faith community’s role in the work of health care. In 1992, Pope St. John Paul II, just one year after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, instituted the World Day of the Sick. Since 1993, it has been celebrated every year on or near Feb. 11, the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, as a special time of prayer and sharing, of offering one’s suffering.
In 2019 the World Day of Sick was celebrated in Mother Teresa’s ‘City of Joy’ Kolkata. Kolkata in India is associated with St. Teresa of Calcutta, the Albanian nun who came to Kolkata in 1929 as a missionary with the Sisters of Loreto from Ireland. Later in 1950, she founded her own Missionaries of Charity order for the poor and the abandoned earning national and international honors for her works of mercy, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She died on September 5, 1997, at the age of 87, and was declared a saint by Pope Francis on September 4, 2016, the eve of her 29th death anniversary.
This day also coincides with the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. For many around the world, Lourdes is a place of hope, a symbol of the promise of healing offered by Jesus. And so they hope that brings so many pilgrims to Lourdes each day brings us together today. We pray in solidarity with those who are sick and those who serve the sick around the world. We renew our commitment to heal as Jesus healed. Our Lady of Lourdes, the shrine in France that is a destination for those seeking physical healing by drinking from the shrine’s spring and bathing in its waters.
World Day of the Sick is observed by the anointing of the sick, one of the church’s seven sacraments. The anointing is reserved for people whose health is seriously impaired or stressed by aging. It is marked by intense prayer for the sick, reflecting on and responding to human suffering, and recognizing and honoring all people who work in the healthcare field and serve as caretakers.
There is no end to human suffering, there is only the hope that things will get better. Perhaps it’s true what they say: a little hope can go a long way. In the case of the World Day of the Sick that hope has spread to a nation, proving that there is indeed faith in our world.
People all around the world take time to pray for the sick. Catholic Churches hold masses on this day attended by Church leaders and healthcare professionals. Let us pray for those who are suffering from sickness and various ailments throughout the world, especially those who are lonely and struggle to find meaning in their suffering. Let us also reflect on those who have committed their lives to care for the sick, especially those extending healing to the poor and marginalized of our society.
World Day of the Sick an opportunity to embrace sick and suffering