The Hand of God Stretched out to Humanity

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave at midday when he prayed the Angelus from the window of his study with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Yesterday, Feb. 11, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, we observed the World Day of the Sick, which this year had its principal celebrations in Adelaide, Australia, including an international congress on the ever urgent subject of mental health. Illness is a typical feature of the human condition, to the point that it can become its realistic metaphor, as St. Augustine well expresses it in one of his prayers: “Have mercy on me, Lord! Look, I do not hide my wounds from you. You are the doctor, I am the patient; you are merciful, I miserable” (“Confessions,” X, 39).

Christ is the true “doctor” of humanity, whom the heavenly Father has sent to the world to cure man, marked in body and spirit by sin and its consequences. Precisely in these Sundays, Mark’s Gospel presents Jesus to us who, at the beginning of his public ministry, is completely dedicated to preaching and curing of the sick in the villages of Galilee.

The innumerable miraculous signs he effects with the sick confirm the “good news” of the Kingdom of God. Today’s Gospel recounts the cure of a leper and expresses with great effectiveness the intensity of the relationship between God and man, summarized in a wonderful dialogue: “If you will, you can make me clean,” says the leper. “I will; be clean,” replies Jesus, touching him with his hand and freeing him from leprosy (Mark 1:40-42).

In this passage we see concentrated the whole history of salvation: This gesture of Jesus, who stretches out his hand and touches the sore-ridden body of the person who invokes him, manifests perfectly God’s will to cure his fallen creature, restoring life to him “in abundance” (John 10:10), full, happy, eternal life. Christ is “the hand” of God stretched out to humanity so that it can be extricated from the shifting sands of sickness and death, to rise again by leaning on the firm rock of divine love (cf. Psalm 39:2-3).

I would like today to entrust to Mary, “Health of the Sick,” especially those in all parts of the world, who not only suffer from lack of health, but also from loneliness, abject poverty and marginalization. I am also thinking in particular of all those who in hospitals or other centers take care of the sick and are dedicated to their cure. May the Holy Virgin help each one to find consolation in body and spirit, thanks to adequate health care and fraternal charity, which becomes concrete care in solidarity.

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