By Kathleen Naab

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 6, 2012 ( Sickness can paradoxically bring beneficial consequences, since illness brings us to give attention to others, but it is also a trial that requires faith in God's love, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope offered this reflection Sunday in the address he gave before praying the midday Angelus with the crowds who had braved the snow and turned up in St. Peter's Square. On Friday and Saturday, Rome endured it's biggest snowfall in more than two and a half decades.

After praying the Angelus, in fact, the Holy Father mentioned the weather: "Snow is beautiful but we hope that spring will come soon," he said.

The Pontiff's Angelus address was centered on Jesus the Healer, drawing from the Gospel, which presented Our Lord healing Simon's mother-in-law and the sick of Capernaum. The Pope also recalled that this Saturday, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, is the World Day of the Sick.

"The four evangelists are in agreement in testifying that freeing of people from sicknesses and infirmities of every type constituted, together with preaching, Jesus's principal activity in his public life," Benedict explained. "In effect, the sicknesses are a sign of the action of evil in the world and in man, while the healings show that the Kingdom of God, God himself, is near. Jesus Christ came to conquer evil at its root, and the healings are an anticipation of his victory, obtained by his death and resurrection."

The Pope reflected that sickness is "a typically human condition in which we have a powerful experience of our lack of self-sufficiency, that we need others. In this sense we can say, with a paradox, that sickness becomes a salutary occasion in which we can experience the attention of others and give attention to others!"

Still, he admitted, being sick is always a trial, and one that can become "long and difficult."

"When healing does not take place and the sufferings continue, we can be crushed. [...] How should we respond to this attack of evil?" he asked.

Medicine and faith

The Pope said that of course, "we can use the appropriate cures -- medicine has made gigantic strides in these decades and we are grateful."

"But," he continued, "the Word of God teaches us that there is a decisive and basic attitude with which to face sickness and it is that of faith in God, in his goodness. Jesus always repeats it to the people he heals: your faith has saved you (cf. Mark 5:34, 36). Even in the face of death, faith can make possible what is humanly impossible."

"But faith in what?" the Holy Father continued. "In the love of God. This is the true response that can radically defeat evil. As Jesus confronted the evil one with the force of love that came to him from the Father, so we too can confront and win out in the trial of sickness, keeping our heart immersed in God's love."

Still, he reminded, "in sickness we all need human warmth: Serene and sincere nearness count more than words in helping a sick person."

Calling to mind Saturday's celebration of the World Day of the Sick, the Pontiff invited: "Let us do what the people of Jesus' time did: In a spiritual way let us bring all of the sick to him, confident that he wants to and can heal them."

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