Homily at Launching of Diocesan Ministry to the Sick

Homily at Launching of Diocesan Ministry to the Sick on the 19th World Day of the Sick, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, 6 pm sunset Mass, on 12th February 2011.




Introduction to Mass

Welcome to this liturgical celebration of the Word and Eucharist (esp. those of us who are seriously sick). You notice we are using white vestments, not the ordinary green, because we are celebrating the sacrament of Anointing within the Mass. The order of Mass is different. The Opening Prayer is followed by the Liturgy of the Word and homily, Anointing and the Eucharist. Even the liturgy can be adapted because of the sick. The sense of the Church towards the sick is sensitive, sound, sure, secure.


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

I will say something briefly about today’s readings and then get to the World Day of the Sick.

The 1st reading from Sirach or Ecclesiastes speaks of the Hebrew wisdom and understanding of life and death. You know that these past few Sundays, in the 2nd reading, we have been listening to Paul preach to the divided community in Corinth. He puts forward a strange proposal, the crucified Christ on the Cross, as the source and symbol of their salvation and unity. It is a scandal to the Jews, foolishness to the Greeks (and abject weakness to Muslims). But to those who believe, it is the power and wisdom of the Living God. How can scandal be salvation, foolishness be wisdom, tragedy be triumph, failure be productive forgiveness, suffering be healing?

In the Gospel according to Matthew, we are admonished to say Yes when we mean Yes; and No, when we mean No – anything else is commentary. In this Gospel, towards the end (Chap. 25), there is a parable or scenario of the Last Judgment (one of Schillebeeckx’s favorite passages). I tell you, there will be judgment, whether you like it or not, sooner or later; and judgment will be without mercy for those who have not been merciful themselves (Jas. 2.13). There is no escape. The simple question, in different variations, may be put to us, ‘Where were you when I was sick and needed help?’ Pope Benedict begins his message for the World Day of the Sick with the caption, ‘The Cross is God’s “Yes” to Humanity’.

The World Day of Prayer for the Sick was instituted by Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1992, a year after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. Is there another religion or church with a day like this on the calendar? (not even the United Nations?).

I search and search the internet for a picture of JPII in his last days but could not find a single one! I have vivid recollections of him towards the end of his life. I was in Rome, staying just outside the Vatican, and also at the same hospital A. Gemelli where he was. You must have seen him on TV, the whole world saw what happened in the April of 2005. Did you see him slurring in his speech, drooling saliva, hands trembling, eyes closing, body bent? Why is there not a single picture of him that way? We pick and choose only what is pleasing to us. If we want to know someone, we should know him both when he is well, young, healthy, strong and when he is old, frail, weak, sick; when he is up and when he is down. Otherwise, it is not the fuller story. Yes, it is painful and disturbing to suffer and see others suffer esp. innocent suffering; even more hurting when faced with indifference.

But suffering also has a critical productive power as Paul preached the Crucified Christ to the factious Corinthians. In another place, Paul says we make up in our own bodies what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ (Col. 1:24). The Church does not exist for the survival of the fittest; the Church is struggling, the Church is fighting for the survival of the weakest! The strong and powerful can take care of themselves; it is the sick and the weak who need the help of the Church, you and me.

You may think of the Church as a chain. You know that the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Break the weak link, you break the chain; strengthen the weak link, you strengthen the chain, you fortify the Church. What kind of Church do you want to belong to? What kind of Church do you want to be? Tell me how you treat the sick and suffering, I will tell you what kind of family, BEC, parish, diocese, Church, society you are.

Lately, we have CNY reunion dinners. You may have heard of the story. A family is dinning at table. At one corner of the house is grandma/grandpa eating his isolated dinner. Yes, he/she is messy, unpleasant, clumsy, embarrassing, drops the food, needs cleaning up. The following dinner, another empty chair was put next to him/her. ‘Why put it there?’ asked mummy. One of the children who did it answered, ‘It’s for you, mummy, when you are old and sick. I will treat you the way you treat grandma/grandpa’.

Pope Benedict, in his message writes,

“the true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through ‘com-passion’ is a cruel and inhuman society” (“SpeSalvi,” No. 38).

There is a measure, a criteria, a standard of judgment. Simply put, whether and how we help the sick and suffering will tell us what kind of person and community we are – our very human-ness is at stake.The Pope encourages initiatives by individual dioceses to promote and stimulate more effective care for the suffering.

By now, you would know that JPII will be beatified on May 1st, Divine Mercy Sunday which he also instituted on every Second Sunday after Easter. There is a church just outside the Vatican dedicated to the Divine Mercy. This Cathedral is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, symbol of Divine Mercy. In today’s liturgy, we hear repeatedly of God’s mercy. I don’t mean a private, personal, devotional exercise; I am talking about the very character (if you like) of God himself, as far as we can tell.

May we experience this mercy and power of God through the sick members among us.May we see in the faces of the sick the face of Christ, our Lord.God bless.

Closing remarks before Final Blessing

May I remind you that both our bishops are not all that well. Unfortunately, Bishop Paul could not be here. You can read his Pastoral Letter,and other materials, on the Diocesan website, majodi.org.

I would like to thank you for your participation and patience, the Rector Fr John Yeow for using the Cathedral to launch the Ministry for the Sick.


Introduction to Mass 弥撒导言


Homily 讲道



在读经一德训篇中谈到了希伯来人的智慧,他们对生命中的生与死存有很深的认识。在过去的数个主日,在第二个读经中,圣保禄宗徒在宣讲中曾提到了格林多教会的分裂。他建议我们将一切交托给被钉在十字架上的基督,因为祂是救赎与合一的表征。为犹太人那是丑行,为希腊人那是愚蠢 (为穆斯林那是绝望与懦弱)但为那相信的,是生活的天主及力量与智慧。如何让丑行成了救赎,愚蠢成了智慧,不幸成胜利,失败带来了宽恕,受苦成了痊愈?

在今天圣玛窦的福音中,我们被忠告的说; 是就是时,非就是非。任何事都是讲实况。在福音中,直到第25章,谈到有关最后的审判,我实在的告诉你,不论你喜欢与否,是会面对审判的。在那是将不会有怜悯,倘若你不曾对自己或他人施予怜悯,同时,也是无法逃避的。有一简单的问题是不会变换的,也许你会问:当我患病和需要帮助时,你在哪里?

教宗本笃十六在他给世界病患日的文告中这样的写道:十字架就是天主 “是”就是人性。


我曾尝试通过网络找寻有关教宗保禄二世在他临终前的照片,但我无法获得。我曾追忆他的生平事迹,特别是当我身处在罗马时,我居住在梵蒂冈城外,但我在患病时曾到A. Gemelli医院求医,教宗也是在同一医院接受治疗。在2005年那时,你也许通过电视荧幕见到他含糊不清的发言,淌着口水,手不停的在打颤,眼睛不能张开太,伛偻的身体,为何在那是无人拍摄下这样的镜头呢?很多时候,我们都愿意看到人处在最好的一面。要认识一个人,在不只是在他健康、强壮、年轻及好模样之时,当他年迈及体弱多病时,他的起起落落也包含在内,否则,那就不是一个完整的认识他了。是的,当我们目睹到疾苦与折磨时,特别是看到无辜者受苦时,我们都会很难过。



我们刚欢度春节,也许你曾听过这么一个故事。有一家人在吃团年饭。在屋子的一角落,有位年迈的老人家独自一人在吃着饭,那是因为他笨拙行动及吃饭时反应的不灵敏而让人感到恶心,因此,孩子就安排他另外坐。到了另一次用餐时,小孩同样放了一把椅子在旁,当却是空着的。母亲问道:为何放一把椅子在这而无人坐?孩子回答:母亲,那是为你的,当你年老及患病时,我就会用同样的方式对待你,如同现在对待祖父一样。如果你有时间,也许你们可以阅读“Tuesdays with Morrie:这本书。你们当中也许已有人观赏过 “The Rite”这部电影,还记得那位驱魔的神父,他面对魔鬼给他最挑战的就是他如何对待自己年老、孤独、被遗弃和患病的母亲。






Closing remarks before Final Blessing 礼成前的感言