The care of the sick is “an integral part of the mission of the Church.” These were the words said by Pope Francis during his Sunday Angelus address from the window of the Apostolic Palace.
Speaking on today’s Gospel on the healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, the Holy Father reflected on Jesus’ care for those wounded in both body and spirit. This care, he said, is an invitation to all Christians to “reflect on the meaning and value of sickness.”
The Pope noted that this Wednesday is the World Day of the Sick and took the occasion to bless the initiative. He also called for prayers for the president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers, who is gravely ill and hospitalized in Poland.
“Let us say a prayer for him, for his health because it was he who prepared this World Day. And he accompanies us with his suffering in this day. Let us pray for Archbishop Zimowski,” the Pope said.
The 78 year old Pontiff continued his address saying that Christ’s work of salvation did not end with his earthly life but continues through the Church. “Sending his disciples in mission, Jesus confers upon them a dual mandate: announce the Gospel of salvation and heal the sick,” he said. “Faithful to this teaching, the Church has always considered the care of the sick as an integral part of its mission.”
“‘The poor and the suffering you will always have with you’, Jesus warns and the Church continuously finds them on the street, considering the sick as a privileged path to encounter Christ, to welcome and serve Him. To care for a sick person, to welcome him and serve him is to serve Christ. The sick are the flesh of Christ!”
The Holy Father went on to say that people’s sufferings raises existential questions on the meaning of life and death; questions, he said, that the pastoral action of the Church must respond to “in the light of faith” and through the mystery of the Cross.
“Each one of us is called to bring the light of the Gospel and the strength of grace to those who suffer and to those who assist them – family members, doctors, nurses – so that the service to the sick may be fulfilled ever more with humanity, with generous dedication, and with evangelical love, with tenderness,” he stressed.
Prior to reciting the Angelus prayer, the Pope called on the faithful to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary so that those who suffer from sickness can experience “the power of God’s love and the comfort of His paternal tenderness.”
The Shameful Scourge of Human Trafficking
Following the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis remembered today’s Day of Prayer and Reflection Against Human Trafficking. The event coincides with the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, the Sudanese-born Canossian nun who was kidnapped at the age of 7 and forced into slavery.
The Holy Father urged world leaders to remove the causes of human trafficking in the world. “It is a shameful scourge!” he exclaimed. “A scourge unworthy of a civilized society; each one of us should commit to be a voice for these our brothers and sisters, humiliated in their dignity.”
Before concluding with his greetings to the pilgrims, Pope Francis led the faithful in praying a Hail Mary for the victims of human trafficking and their families.
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