A GUIDED PRAYER ON THE ACT OF MERCY "VISIT THE SICK"
I sit or walk and become aware of God’s loving gaze upon me. I become aware of my own body and of my state of health. I thank God for the gift of health. Even though my health may not be perfect, at least I can go about my daily business whilst so many cannot. I think of what I am about to do, reflect on how I have served the sick and how I have not done so.
I pray to God that I gain a deeper understanding of how much those who are sick depend on those who are healthy. I pray God to show me what I have done for those whose health has failed them, what I have failed to do for them and what I could do for them.
i. Jesus spent a big part of his ministry amongst those who are sick, healing them and giving them courage. He broke social taboos in order to help the sick. I choose and read slowly one text of such a meeting between Jesus and a sick person e.g. Lk 8:43-48 or Mk 8:22-25.
ii. The most obvious way to start is by remembering those times when I visited a relative or a friend in hospital, or when they were unwell in their homes. At times this might not be convenient for me and I may postpone visiting someone who would welcome my company, perhaps because I do not like the environment, or perhaps because I find the stigmata of disease too painful or disturbing to witness, or perhaps simply because my life is too full of other things for me to go out of my way to accompany those who need my presence.
iii. Maybe there are other ways how I can visit the sick, perhaps by supporting cancer research, or research into another disease or by volunteering and offering my services to an NGO or in hospital. Or perhaps I can support a family plagued by the illness of a loved one, maybe by cooking a meal for a family with a sick mother. Maybe I could lobby for better promotion of a healthy lifestyle, or for better health education in schools or on the media. The possibilities are endless and I think of those instances where I have visited the sick in this way and of those times when I did not do so.
iv. I also think of the time when I did not only fail to visit the sick, but when I actually risked the health of others. Perhaps I risked my life and that of others by drinking and driving. Perhaps I neglected my friend’s symptoms and did not urge her to seek medical attention until it was too late. Maybe, less dramatically, I do not bother to give my family healthy food because the less healthy options are simply too convenient.
v. I continue to reflect on the sick in my life. For all those times that I did visit them I thank God. I ask for forgiveness for all those times when I failed to serve the sick around me, and for all those times when I promoted sickness around me. I resolve to serve the sick in new ways and ask for the love and strength to accomplish what I have resolved.
I speak to Jesus directly, as to a friend who is sitting next to me, sharing with Him all that I have thought about and about what I felt as I was reflecting. I pause and listen.
I finish by saying slowly and prayerfully the Our Father.