“Let us entrust to the Virgin Mary our trials and tribulations, together with our joys and consolations. Let us beg her to turn her eyes of mercy towards us, especially in times of pain, and make us worthy of beholding, today and always, the merciful face of her Son Jesus!”
The Pope said this in his message for the 24th World Day of the Sick, released by the Vatican this morning, which has the title, ”Entrusting oneself to the merciful Jesus like Mary: ‘do whatever he tells you.” The World Day of the Sick is celebrated anually on Feb. 11, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes. This year, its main Eucharistic celebration will be in the Holy Land, in Nazareth.
The Holy Father reflected on the Gospel account of the Wedding Feast at Cana (Jn 2: 1-11), in which Mary observes the wine has run out. Reacting to the problem, she tells the servants: “Do whatever he tells you,” Jesus performs the miracle, turns water into wine, and the celebration continues.
Francis asked: What teaching can we draw from this mystery of the wedding feast of Cana for the World Day of the Sick?
Saying the wedding feast of Cana is an image of the Church, he stressed this account illustrates Jesus and His mission of coming to help those in difficulty and need. In Mary’s concern, Francis also underscored, we see the tenderness of God, that same tenderness which “is present in the lives of all those persons who attend to the sick and understand their needs, even the most imperceptible ones, because they look upon them with eyes full of love.”
“How many times has a mother at the bedside of her sick child, or a child caring for an elderly parent, or a grandchild concerned for a grandparent, placed his or her prayer in the hands of Our Lady! For our loved ones who suffer because of illness we ask first for their health. Jesus himself showed the presence of the Kingdom of God specifically through his healings.”
Francis said the World Day of the Sick offers him an opportunity to draw particularly close to “you, dear friends who are ill, and to those who care for you.”
“Illness, above all grave illness, always places human existence in crisis and brings with it questions that dig deep. Our first response may at times be one of rebellion: Why has this happened to me? We can feel desperate, thinking that all is lost, that things no longer have meaning,” the Pope acknowledged.
In these situations, he noted, faith in God is tested, but it also reveals all its positive resources.This is the case, the Pope said, “not because faith makes illness, pain, or the questions which they raise, disappear, but because it offers a key by which we can discover the deepest meaning of what we are experiencing; a key that helps us to see how illness can be the way to draw nearer to Jesus who walks at our side, weighed down by the Cross. And this key is given to us by Mary, our Mother, who has known this way at first hand.”
On this World Day of the Sick, the Pope prays that Jesus in his mercy, through Mary’s intercession, grants to all of us this same readiness to serve those in need, and especially our infirm brothers and sisters.
At times, the Pope recognized, this service can be tiring and burdensome, but we are certain, he assured, “that the Lord will surely turn our human efforts into something divine.”
“We too can be hands, arms and hearts which help God to perform his miracles, so often hidden. We too, whether healthy or sick, can offer up our toil and sufferings like the water which filled the jars at the wedding feast of Cana and was turned into the finest wine.”
When we quietly help those who suffer, as in illness itself, we take our daily cross upon our shoulders and follow the Master, Pope Francis said.
“Every hospital and nursing home can be a visible sign and setting in which to promote the culture of encounter and peace, where the experience of illness and suffering, along with professional and fraternal assistance, helps to overcome every limitation and division.”
He urged all those who assist the sick and the suffering to draw inspiration from Mary the Mother of Mercy. “May the sweetness of her countenance watch over us in this Holy Year, so that all of us may rediscover the joy of God’s tenderness” (ibid., 24), allow it to dwell in our hearts and express it in our actions! “
Before concluding, the Holy Father assured the sick and those who care for them of his prayers and imparted his Apostolic Blessing.
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