Sunday, February 11, 2018

Angelus for the World Day of the Sick

At noon today local time (6:00am EST), the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square.

Greetings of His Holiness, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

This Sunday, the Gospel according to Mark presents Jesus who is healing all kinds of sicknesses.  In such a context, it is fitting that we are celebrating the World Day of the Sick, which is observed on this very day, 11 February, the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes.  Therefore, with our hearts' gazes turned toward the grotto at Massabielle, let us contemplate Jesus as the true physician of bodies and souls, who God the Father sent into the world in order to heal humanity, marked by sin and its consequences.

Today's gospel passage (cf Mk 1:40-45) presents the healing of a man suffering from leprosy, an illness which, in the Old Testament, was considered a serious impurity and which led to the separation of the leper from the rest of the community: compelling him to live alone.  His condition was truly painful, because the mentality at the time made him feel impure even before God, not only before human beings.  Before God too.  Therefore the leper in the gospel begged Jesus with these words: If you choose, you can heal me! (Mk 1:40)

Upon hearing this, Jesus felt compassion (cf Mk 1:41).  It is very important that we fix our attention on this interior resonance that Jesus experienced, like we did for a long time during the Jubilee of Mercy.  We cannot understand the work Christ did without understanding Christ himself, if we do not enter into his heart which is filled with compassion and mercy.  This is what motivated him to reach out to the man who was suffering from leprosy, to touch him and say to him: I do choose, be made clean! (Mk 1:40).  The most disturbing fact was that Jesus touched the leper, because this was absolutely forbidden by the law of Moses.  Touching a leper meant that a person would also be infected, even within, at the level of the spirit, which would become impure.  But in this case, the infusion did not flow from the leper to Jesus in order to transmit the contagion, rather it flowed from Jesus to the leper in order to purify him.  In this healing, we admire - in addition to compassion - Jesus' mercy, his boldness which was not concerned by either the contagion nor the requirements imposed by the law, but who was moved solely by his will to free this man from the curse that was oppressing him.

Brothers and sisters, no illness is a cause for impurity: certainly, diseases affect the whole person, but in now way do they affect or prevent that person from being in relationship with God.  On the contrary, a sick person can be even more united with God.  Rather, it is sin that makes us impure!  Selfishness, pride, entering into the world of corruption, these are illnesses of the heart from which we need to be purified, reasons why we need to turn to Jesus like the leper and ask: If you choose, you can heal me! 

And now, let us observe a moment of silence, and every one of us - all of us, me too - we can think about our bodies, we can look inside ourselves, and admit our own impurity, our own sins.  And every one of us, in silence, but with the voice of our hearts can say to Jesus: If you choose, you can heal me!  Let us do this in silence.

If you choose, you can heal me.

If you choose, you can heal me.

And every time that we come to the Sacrament of Reconciliation with repentant hearts, the Lord says to us: I do choose, be made clean!  What joy there is in these words!  In this way, the leprosy of sin disappears, we return to joyfully living our filial relationships with God and we are fully re-admitted into the community.

Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, our Immaculate Mother, let us ask the Lord, who healed the sick, to cleanse us from our interior wounds with the gift of his infinite mercy and to give us the gifts of hope and peace in our hearts.

Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, registrations open for the World Youth Day which will take place in Panama in January 2019.  I myself will register right now - in the presence of two other young people - through the internet.

(he clicks the tablet)

There, I'm registered as a pilgrim for the World Youth Day.  We need to prepare ourselves!  I invite all the youth of the world to experience this event of grace and fraternity with faith and enthusiasm, either by coming to Panama or by participating in your own communities.

On 15 February, in the Far East and in various other parts of the world, millions of men and women will celebrate the lunar New Year.  I send my cordial greetings to all their families, with my wish that at this time, they may experience solidarity, fraternity and the desire for good, working toward creating a society in which every person can be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated.  I invite you to pray for the gift of peace, a precious treasure that is worth pursuing with compassion, foresight and courage.  I am with all of you and I bless you.

I greet all the families, parishes, associations and all those who have come from Italy and from many other parts of the world, especially the pilgrims from Murcia (Spain) and the children from GuimarĂ£es (Portugal).

I greet the Congolese community here in Rome and I unite myself with your prayer for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  I remember that this intention will be particularly present during the Day of Prayer and Fasting which I have called for on 23 February.

Today, there are many Italian parishes represented here and many young people who have recently been been Confirmed, professed their faith and been catechized.  It is not possible for me to name all the groups, but I thank you all for your presence and I encourage you to continue your journey with joy and generosity, bearing witness everywhere to the Lord's goodness and the mercy.

A special thought goes out to all the sick who, in every corner of the world, in addition to the lack of health, often also suffer from loneliness and marginalization.  May the Holy Virgin, Salus infirmorum - Help of the sick, help every one of you to find comfort in body and spirit, through adequate health care and fraternal charity that is capable of providing concrete and supportive attention.

I wish you all a good Sunday.  Please don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye!

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