I am deeply moved by the Holy Father's Message for the 17th World Day of the Sick, which will be celebrated on the 11th February, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. You can read the whole message here, below I include a couple of paragraphs:
"This year our attention turns particularly to children", the Pope writes in his Message, "and especially to sick and suffering children. There are young human beings whose bodies bear the consequences of incapacitating illnesses, and others who struggle against sicknesses that remain incurable even today, despite the progress in medical science".
"Daily dedication and ceaseless commitment in the service of sick children are an eloquent testimony of love for human life, especially for the lives of the weak and of those entirely dependent upon others. We must, in fact, vigorously affirm the absolute and supreme dignity of each human life. Though time may pass, the teaching incessantly proclaimed by the Church remains unchanged: human life is beautiful and must be lived to the full even when its is weak and enveloped by the mystery of suffering".
We live in a world where people often don't know how to respond when they come face to face with a severely disabled child, or adult. A common reaction is to stare in silence, or to look away,as if reminded of a problem sitting on the in tray, still waiting to be solved.
Occasionally, braver souls will offer a tentative smile, or even a kindly spoken word.
The Holy Father's words speak the beautiful truth, that the lives of those who are disabled are willed by God, written into His Divine plan; for some of us, His way of providing teachers of self sacrificing and unconditional love.
The Holy Father concludes:
"My very special greetings to you, dear children who are sick and suffering. The Pope embraces you, your parents and your families with paternal affection, and assures you of a special mention in his prayer, inviting you to trust in the maternal assistance of Mary Immaculate."
To be embraced by His Vicar on earth is to be embraced by Christ.
Thank you Holy Father, and thanks be to God.