Visit the Sick

A Moment for Mercy - Visit the Sick

This is probably the work of mercy that lies most within our reach, for we all know many sick people. When we are ourselves sick we understand how true it is that visiting the sick is a work of mercy. 

Yet we also realise that it is also a demanding work. We feel embarrassed and insecure in the face of illness, especially when the condition is mental or terminal. The most distressing of all is to witness the memory loss of our loved ones.

We would like to feel helpful by suggesting remedies, even when we know there are none, and we often end up saying empty platitudes. 

Deep down we know this is just a way of hiding our helplessness in the face of suffering. What the sick person really needs is something simpler but more precious, our presence above all.  We can try to take a smile, and give freely of our most cherished possession, our time, being more ready to listen than to talk. Even being present in silence is of great support and comfort, it is often enough.

Some of us might live with someone who is chronically ill; here it is extremely important to remind ourselves this is a kind of mercy that is worth much more than any loss of temper or sharp words we might exchange. 

Often carers carry a heavy burden: think of the parents of a disabled child or those who live with someone with some form of dementia. It would be a true work of mercy if we can take over occasionally, offering some respite to such people.

Is there anyone I have been meaning to visit? What about the aged relative or the neighbour nobody visits? Lent is the time. It is a golden opportunity to exercise mercy.

By Paul Pace, SJ 

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