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Some three years ago, a physical therapist suggested I get evaluated for Parkinson’s Disease. Upon confirmation, I reacted in my normal way. I quickly researched Parkinson’s disease. I remember how hopeful I felt when I learned that I would most likely die “with “rather than “of” Parkinson’s.

Something else surprised me.

I “knew” it for many years. Who can forget the images of St. John Paul struggling with this progressive disease?

This year Pope John Paul’s response jumped out at me!

In 1991, Pope John Paul II was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Part of his response was to set aside February 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, as a day to remember all the sick of the world.

Personal Impact of Pope Francis’ 2023 message

With this reawakened awareness I paid more attention than usual to his annual message.

The theme of World Day of the sick is “Illness is a part of the human condition. Yet if illness is experienced in isolation and abandonment, unaccompanied by care and compassion, it can become inhumane.”

I am one of the blest! I am surrounded with friends and the best of care!

Here is what else jumped out at me in his words.

“When we go on a journey with others, it is not unusual for someone to feel sick, to have to stop because of fatigue or of some mishap along the way.

“It is precisely in such moments that we see how we are walking together: whether we are truly companions on the journey, or merely individuals on the same path, looking after our own interests and leaving others to “make do”.

“For this reason, on the thirty-first World Day of the Sick, as the whole Church journeys along the synodal path, I invite all of us to reflect on the fact that it is especially through the experience of vulnerability and illness that we can learn to walk together according to the style of God, which is closeness, compassion, and tenderness.

“The Encyclical Fratelli Tutti encourages us to read anew the parable of the Good Samaritan, which I chose in order to illustrate how we can move from the “dark clouds” of a closed world to “envisaging and engendering an open world” (cf. No. 56).

“There is a profound link between this parable of Jesus and the many ways in which fraternity is denied in today’s world.


“Two travellers, considered pious and religious, see the wounded man, yet fail to stop. The third passer-by, however, a Samaritan, a scorned foreigner, is moved with compassion and takes care of that stranger on the road, treating him as a brother. In doing so, without even thinking about it, he makes a difference, he makes the world more fraternal.

“The elements of the inn, the innkeeper, the money and the promise to remain informed of the situation (cf. Lk 10:34-35) all point to the commitment of healthcare and social workers, family members and volunteers, through whom good stands up in the face of evil every day, in every part of the world.

The Samaritan calls the innkeeper to “take care of him” (Lk 10:35). Jesus addresses the same call to each of us. He exhorts us to “go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37).

Sick people, in fact, are at the center of God’s people, and the Church advances together with them as a sign of a humanity in which everyone is precious and no one should be discarded or left behind.

Reading between the lines…

I invite you to reread this parable as unpacked by Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti c. 2

Fratelli Tutti Overview
Fratelli Tutti Summary

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