Today, March 8, is the Commemoration of St. John of God. John was born in Portugal in 1495 and, after a difficult military career, dedicated his life to caring for the poor and ill. John founded a hospital in Granada, Spain and his disciples formed the Order of Hospitallers of Saint John of God. St. John died in Granada in 1550. He is one of the patron saints of nurses.
I wanted to share this beautiful excerpt from a letter written by St. John of God:
If we look forward to receiving God’s mercy, we can never fail to do good so long as we have the strength. For if we share with the poor, out of love for God, whatever he has given to us, we shall receive according to his promise a hundredfold in eternal happiness. What a fine profit, what a blessed reward! Who would not entrust his possessions to this best of merchants, who handles our affairs so well? With outstretched arms he begs us to turn toward him, to weep for our sins, and to become the servants of love, first for ourselves, then for our neighbors. Just as water extinguishes fire, so love wipes away sin.
So many poor people come here that I very often wonder how we can care for them all, but Jesus Christ provides all things and nourishes everyone. Many of them come to the house of God, because the city of Granada is large and very cold, especially now in winter. More than a hundred and ten are now living here, sick and healthy, servants and pilgrims. Since this house is open to everyone, it receives the sick of every type and condition: the crippled, the disabled, lepers, mutes, the insane, paralytics, those suffering from scurvy and those bearing the afflictions of old age, many children, and above all countless pilgrims and travelers, who come here, and for whom we furnish the fire, water and salt, as well as the utensils to cook their food. And for all of this no payment is requested, yet Christ provides.
I work here on borrowed money, a prisoner for the sake of Jesus Christ. And often my debts are so pressing that I dare not go out of the house for fear of being seized by my creditors. Whenever I see so many poor brothers and neighbors of mine suffering beyond their strength and overwhelmed with so many physical or mental ills which I cannot alleviate, then I become exceedingly sorrowful; but I trust in Christ, who knows my heart. And so I say: “Woe to the man who trusts in men rather than in Christ.” Whether you like it or not, you will grow apart from men, but Christ is faithful and always with you, for Christ provides all things. Let us always give thanks to him. Amen.
(from The Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings for the Commemoration of St. John of God, Religious).
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.