God wishes to draw near to every human person, but with particular tenderness to those who are sick. Human suffering tempts us to doubt the words of Jesus that the Kingdom of God is near. When pain dulls the mind and weighs down body and soul, God can seem far away; life can become a heavy burden. We are tempted not to believe the Good News.
The mystery of human suffering overwhelms the sick person and poses disturbing new questions: Why is God allowing me to suffer? What purpose does it serve? How can God who is good permit something which is so evil? There are no easy answers to these questions asked by the burdened mind and heart. Certainly, no satisfying answer can be found without the light of faith. We must cry out to God, our Father and Creator, as did the author of the Book of Wisdom: 'With you is wisdom, she who knows your words... Dispatch her from the holy heavens... to help me and to toil with me and teach me what is pleasing to you.'
Our Savior knows well the many special needs of those who suffer. From the beginning of his public ministry, together with his preaching of the Good News of the Kingdom, 'he went about doing good and healing.' In his preaching, Jesus makes it clear that, although illness is linked to the sinful condition of humanity, in individual cases it is certainly not a punishment from God for personal sins. This suffering is not divine retribution. On the contrary, it is intended for a good purpose: 'so that the works of God might be displayed'!
And indeed, it was the suffering and death of Christ that displayed the works of God most eloquently. By his Paschal Mystery, Jesus won for us our salvation. Suffering and death, when accepted with love and offered with trust to God, become the key to eternal victory, the triumph of life over death, the triumph of life through death.
The very weakness which you feel, and particularly the love and faith with which you accept that weakness, remind the world of the higher values in life, of the things that really matter. Moreover, your sufferings take on a special value, a creative character, when you offer them in union with Christ. They become redemptive, since they share in the mystery of the Redemption. That is why Saint Paul could say: 'Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's affections for the sake of his body, that is, the Church'.
Through your daily efforts, bear witness to the value of all human life, particularly that life which is most fragile and most dependent on others. Your service to the sick, the elderly, the handicapped and the disabled is part of the Church's proclamation of the beauty of all life, even when it is weak.