It is also an occasion for those who generously assist the sick, beginning with family members, health workers and volunteers, to give thanks for their God-given vocation of accompanying our infirm brothers and sisters. This celebration, likewise, gives the Church renewed spiritual energy for carrying out ever more fully that fundamental part of her mission which includes serving the poor, the infirm, the suffering, the outcast and the marginalised.
I will be spiritually present at the grotto of Massabielle, before the statue of the Immaculate Virgin, in whom the Almighty has done great things for the redemption of mankind. I express my closeness to all of you, our suffering brothers and sisters, and to your families, as well as my appreciation for all those in different roles of service and in healthcare institutions throughout the world, who work with professionalism, responsibility and dedication for your care, treatment and daily well-being. Like Saint Bernadette, we stand beneath the watchful gaze of Mary. The humble maiden of Lourdes tells us that the Virgin, whom she called "the Lovely Lady", looked at her as one person looks at another.
The gaze of Mary, Comfort of the Afflicted, brightens the face of the Church in her daily commitment to the suffering and those in need. The precious fruits of this solicitude for the world of suffering and sickness are a reason for gratitude to the Lord Jesus, who out of obedience to the will of the Father became one of us, even enduring death on the Cross for the redemption of humanity. The solidarity shown by Christ, the Son of God born of Mary, is the expression of God's merciful omnipotence, which is made manifest in our life – above all when that life is frail, pain-filled, humbled, marginalised and suffering – and fills it with the power of hope that can sustain us and enable us to get up again.
This great wealth of humanity and faith must not be dissipated. Instead, it should inspire us to speak openly of our human weaknesses and to address the challenges of present-day healthcare and technology. On this World Day of the Sick, may we find a new incentive to work for the growth of a culture of respect for life, health and the environment. May this Day also inspire renewed efforts to defend the integrity and dignity of persons, not least through a correct approach to bio-ethical issues, the protection of the vulnerable and the protection of the environment.
On this Twenty-fifth World Day of the Sick, I once more offer my prayerful support and encouragement to physicians, nurses, volunteers and all those consecrated men and women committed to serving the sick and those in need. I also embrace the ecclesial and civil institutions working to this end, and the families who take loving care of their sick. I pray that all may be ever joyous signs of the presence of God's love and imitate the luminous testimony of so many friends of God, including Saint John of God and Saint Camillus de' Lellis, the patrons of hospitals and healthcare workers, and Saint Mother Teresa of Kolkata, missionary of God's love.
Surely, the moments of prayer, the Eucharistic liturgies and the celebrations of the Anointing of the Sick, the sharing with the sick and the bio-ethical and theological-pastoral workshops to be held in Lourdes in those days will make new and significant contributions to that service.
(Compiled from Vatican Radio)
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