“It is not easy to approach a patient. The most beautiful and most miserable things in life are reserved, they conceal themselves. One tries to hide the greatest love, out of modesty; and for modesty we also hide those things that demonstrate our human misery”. With these words the Pope addressed the patients he met in the Basilica of Gesù Nuovo Friday, explaining that to approach a patient it is necessary to go to him, since the modesty of life leads him to conceal himself. “When there are lifelong illnesses, when we find ourselves faced with maladies that affect an entire life, we prefer to hide them, because going to visit a patient means going and finding our own sickness. It means having the courage to say to oneself: I too have a malady of the heart, of the soul, of the spirit; I too am spiritually afflicted”.
Francis spoke of the mystery of sickness, explaining that although God created us to change the world, to be efficient, to dominate Creation, “when we find ourselves before sickness, we see that the ailment prevents this: that man or that woman who was born this way, or who became this way, seems to say 'no' to the mission of transforming the world. … We are only able to approach the sick … if we accustom ourselves to looking at the Crucified Christ, as here is the only explanation for this 'failure', this human failure, this ailment throughout our lives”.
“If you cannot understand the Lord”, he said to the patients present, “I ask the Lord to make you understand in your hearts that you are the flesh of Christ”. Francis thanked the volunteers who spend their time “caressing Christ's flesh, serving the crucified and living Christ”, and the doctors and nurses who have not transformed their profession into a form of trade, as “when medicine turns into trade, into business, it is like the priesthood when it acts in the same way: it loses the kernel of its vocation”. Finally, he urged all the Christians of the diocese of Naples not to forget what Jesus asked us, and what we will all be judged upon: “I was sick, and you cared for me”. “The sick suffer: they are a reflection of the suffering Christ”, he concluded. “Do not be afraid to draw close to Christ Who suffers”.