Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis delivered his Angelus message today, feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day of the Sick.
He told the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square that “With our hearts turned toward the cave of Massabielle (near Lourdes), we contemplate Jesus as the true physician of our bodies and souls – Jesus, whom God the Father sent into the world to heal humanity, marked by sin and its consequences.”
After the Angelus, the pontiff noted that today is also the start of registration for World Youth Day, scheduled for January 2019, and offered his best wishes for the Lunar New Year to the peoples of the Far East.
Before the Marian prayer, the pope referred to today’s Mass (Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, B, Mark 1.40-45) in which Jesus heals a leper. “His condition was particularly painful, because the mentality of the time made him feel impure before God and other people. That is why the leper in the Gospel begs Jesus with these words: ‘If you want to, you can purify me!’”
“When He hears this, Jesus feels compassion. It is very important to focus our attention on this interior resonance of Jesus, as we did for a long time during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. We can never understand the work of Christ, we can never understand Christ Himself, if we do not enter His heart full of compassion. This is what drives Him to reach out to the man suffering from leprosy, to touch him and to say to him: ‘I want to be cleansed!’ The most disturbing fact is that Jesus touches the leper, because this was absolutely forbidden by the Law of Moses. Touching a leper meant you were infected, interiorly as well, spiritually: in other words, you become impure. But in this case the impurity does not flow from the leper to Jesus to transmit the disease, but from Jesus to the leper to purify him. In this act of healing we admire both Jesus’ compassion, and His audacity: He is not worried about the disease or the law. He is moved only by the desire to free that man from the curse that oppresses him.”
“No illness causes impurity. Disease certainly involves the whole person, but in no way does it affect or impede that person’s relationship with God. On the contrary, a sick person can be even more united to God. Instead, it is sin that makes us unclean! Selfishness, pride, entering the world of corruption, these are diseases of the heart from which we need to be cleansed, turning to Jesus like the leper did: “If you want to, you can cleanse me!”.
“Every time we approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation with a repentant heart, the Lord repeats to us too: ‘I want to: be cleansed!’ Thus, the leprosy of sin disappears, we return to live with joy our filial relationship with God and we are readmitted fully into the community.”
After the Angelus, the pontiff along with two young people “registered” for World Youth Day, set to take place in January 2019 in Panama, clicking on a tablet. “I invite all young people around the world to live this event of grace and fraternity with faith and enthusiasm, either by going to Panama or by participating in their communities.”
Pope Francis then offered his greetings and best wishes for Lunar New Year to “millions of men and women” in the Far East and around the world, adding “My cordial greeting goes out to all their families, with the hope that they may live ever more solidarity, brotherhood and the desire for goodness, [thus] contributing to the creation of a society in which everyone is accepted, protected, promoted and integrated. I invite everyone to pray for the gift of peace, a precious treasure that must be sought with compassion, foresight, and courage. I accompany and bless everyone.”
In greeting Rome’s Congolese community, Francis noted that a day of prayer and fasting will be celebrated on 23 February, especially for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lastly, the Holy Father turned to the sick. “My special thoughts go to sick people who, everywhere in the world, in addition to poor health, suffer from solitude and marginalisation. May the Holy Virgin, Salus Infirmorum, help everyone find comfort in body and spirit, through proper medical care and brotherly charity, which can become actual caring attention.”