1Care of the sick must rank above and before all else, so that they may truly be served as Christ, 2for he said: "I was sick and you visited me" (Matt 25:36), 3and, "What you did for one of these least brothers you did for me" (Matt 25:40).In my efforts to practice the works of mercy I think I've made the least amount of progress on visiting and caring for the sick. Yet here Benedict says "care of the sick must rank above and before all else."
My struggles with caring for the sick aren't because I'm particularly calloused toward sick people. Far from it. It mainly has to do with the rise of modern medicine. In Benedict's day there were no hospitals, emergency rooms, health clinics or pharmacies. Families and communities cared for the sick at home.
To be sure, we bring food to each other when someone is sick or recuperating. We visit each other in the hospital. That's mainly what this work of mercy looks like for many of us. And so we should practice this much. But again, I've not myself cooked a lot of casseroles and nor do I regularly visit the local hospital.
And what about nursing? Well, a part of this burden still falls on our families. In my home, like your home, people get sick and need some nursing. And beyond the flu and colds many of us have serious and chronic health issues in our homes. Some of us are full-time caregivers to our loved ones. And it light of all that, let's let Benedict's words reach us today.
Nursing, while often hard, tedious, boring and lonely, is the greatest expression of love that we can offer each other.