Visiting the sick brings the much needed gift of love to those who suffer illness. Love. It is a simple four letter word that we have been seemingly unable to avoid since the nursery rhymes of kindergarten. Yet for both the sick and healthy alike love is a far more powerful medicine than any science, syringes, or doctors may prescribe.
No matter our physical health we yearn to be loved in an endless ways: from the attention of the pretty girl in our homeroom class, from the laughter of friends after a successfully told joke, from athletic accomplishments, academic recognition, a beautiful marriage, the joy and struggle that is raising children…career success, wealth, money, power. Some ways more wholesome and beautiful than others yet all for the same goal: to be loved by others. No matter how we try to fill this longing in our hearts the longing itself is honest and pure. It is an infinite longing that was given to us by God himself. It is our roadmap always leading us through the maze of life back to the heart of Christ. Just as a square peg can never fit in a round hole only the infinite love of Christ can fill the infinite desire of the human heart.
Christ not only wants us to experience this love but he wants us to share it with others. He cannot be outdone in generosity. Every selfless act to share Christ’s love with others prepares us to experience Christ’s love all the more. God reveals in his written Word that visiting the sick should be among the highest on our priority list. In Matthew chapter 25 we read, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me…Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Christ, choosing to experience the sufferings of our humanity, knows the strength provided to the sick when they experience firsthand the love and prayers of those who visit them. He understands the joy of the human heart in a principle that we often only remember on Christmas morning: giving is one of the greatest gifts of all. Through his Passion Christ understands better than any of us that our days are numbered. The fact our mortal bodies will unavoidably greet death is something we ought to remember –not out of a sense of morbidity, but rather so that we can enjoy the gift of life every morning when we open our eyes. The sick, terminally ill, and dying teach us to confront this difficult reality so that we can ask ourselves what should be a few easy questions: “How have I treated my loved ones? Have I lived a life of joy? And perhaps most importantly, is my heart open to the love of Christ?” This life is a journey. Let it be a pilgrimage to heaven with the love of Christ as our guide. Go visit the sick. Share Christ’s love with them. Do for the least of these what you would do for Christ himself.