On the World Day of the Sick
"The Lord Cares for Man in Every Situation"
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
In this Sunday's Gospel the Lord Jesus tells his disciples: "You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13, 14). Through these images that are rich with meaning, he wants to convey to them the point of their mission and their witness. Salt, in Middle Eastern culture, has different meanings: alliance, solidarity, life and wisdom. Life is the first work of God the Creator and is the source of life; the Word of God itself is compared to light, as the Psalmist says: "Your word is a lamp for my steps, light on my path" (Psalm 119:105). And again in today's liturgy the prophet Isaiah says: "If you open your heart to the hungry, if you satisfy the downhearted, your light will shine in the darkness, your darkness will be as midday" (58:10). Wisdom sums up in itself the beneficial effects of salt and light: In fact the disciples of the Lord are called to bring new "taste" to the world, and to save it from corruption, with the wisdom of God, which shines fully on the face of the Son because he is the "true light that enlightens every man" (John 1:9). United to him, Christians can spread, in the midst of indifference and egoism, the light of God's love, the true wisdom that gives wisdom that grants meaning to man's existence and his actions.
On Feb. 11, the feast of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, we will celebrate the World Day of the Sick. It is an opportune occasion to reflect, to pray and to increase the ecclesial community's and civil society's awareness of sick brothers and sisters. In the message for this day, inspired by an expression of the first Letter of Peter: "By his wounds you are healed" (2:24), I invite everyone to contemplate Jesus, the Son of God, who suffered and died but is risen. God is radically opposed to the arrogance of evil. The Lord cares for man in every situation, shares his suffering and opens his heart to hope. Thus I exhort all health workers to see in the sick person not only a body marked by fragility, but first of all a person, to whom complete solidarity must be extended and adequate and competent responses given. In this context I further observe that today is the "Day for Life" in Italy. I hope that everyone will work to make the culture of life grow, to put the value of the human being at the center in every circumstance. According to faith and reason the dignity of the person is irreducible to his faculties or the capacities he can manifest, and so it is not lessened when the person himself is weak, handicapped and in need of help.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, so that parents, grandparents, teachers, priests and those who work in education might form the young generations in the wisdom of the heart so that they attain the fullness of life.
[After reciting the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]
In these days I am attentively following the delicate situation of that dear Egyptian nation. I ask God that that land, blessed by the presence of the Holy Family, rediscover tranquility and peaceful coexistence in the shared commitment to the common good.
I offer a cordial greeting to the delegations of the medical and surgical departments of the University of Rome, accompanied by the cardinal vicar [of the Diocese of Rome] on the occasion of the conference sponsored by the departments of gynecology and obstetrics on the topic of health assistance during pregnancy. When scientific and technological research are guided by authentic ethical values it is possible to find adequate solutions for the welcoming of nascent life and the promotion of maternity. It is my wish that the new generations of health workers are the bearers of a renewed culture of life.
[In English he said:]
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel, Jesus urges us to make our light shine before others, to the praise of our Father in heaven. May the light of Christ purify all our thoughts and actions. As the Church celebrates the World Day of the Sick on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, may that same light bring hope and healing to those who are ill. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the blessings of Almighty God.
[In Italian, he said:]
I wish everyone a good Sunday, a good week. Greetings to all of you. Have a good Sunday.
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
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