“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God” (2 Cor 1:3-4).
St. Paul tells us that God is compassion and encouragement himself, and that we who have received these graces from God are asked to share it with others. But how can we do this in our daily lives?
A couple of months ago, a man’s daughter called him on the phone and said, “Dad, I would like for you to accompany me to the hospital to visit a relative of a friend of mine. She is ill and I would like to pray with her.” Surprised at the invitation, the man glanced at his watch and calendar. His daughter had never asked him anything like this before, but inspired by her motivation, he agreed to go. Arriving at the hospital, the man and his daughter entered the room of the woman, introduced themselves, and asked if they could pray over her. She joyfully agreed and responded by saying, “I am scared. I do not think I will leave this place alive. My birthday is in two days, and I would like to be at home with my family but let God’s will be done.” The man and his daughter made a brief prayer with and for her according to her fears and desires. The following week, they learned that the woman they had prayed for spent her birthday at home with her family with considerable improvement!
The Bible is full of passages and scenes of people suffering from illnesses. However, through the Lord’s mercy in response to an individual’s intercession, we often observe miraculous healings. In the Gospels, Jesus is constantly pastorally caring for the sick and suffering. It is also important to notice that he performed many of these healings before his disciples to teach them the significance of this ministry of compassion. Christ’s example to his disciples is meant to be one to one for us, too.
The Church carries out this ministry by praying and accompanying the sick and those who suffer. She has never stopped praying and interceding for those sick and afflicted, and for this reason, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila invites everyone to join him in his intention for February to pray for the sick and suffering. God is, has been and will continue to be compassionate and merciful to all, especially the sick. Through our own experiences of affliction, perhaps we can see how God has encouraged us through others who have experienced similar tribulations. Like the daughter in the story, we, too, then can go out on mission to serve and pray for those that are experiencing suffering. Remember that the Lord loves moving through even our smallest actions!
If we are unable to visit the sick in person like the people in the story, let us pray that God will bring them his compassion and encouragement through our prayers. We cannot forget that Jesus is in the sick and the suffering (one of the corporal works of mercy). Let us pray for those that are ill, especially those we do not know and for those who have no one to pray for them. In addition, let us remember to pray for those who work in the medical field and care for the sick, that if it is God’s will, through them our prayers of healing, compassion and encouragement will be received.