VATICAN CITY, FEB 12, 2006 (VIS) - The World Day of the Sick, celebrated on February 11, Feast of Our lady of Lourdes, provided the main theme for Benedict XVI's remarks before praying the Angelus this morning with thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.
"Sickness," said the Pope, "is such a typical characteristic of the human condition that it can even become a realistic metaphor thereof. St. Augustine expresses this well in one of his prayers: 'Have mercy on me, Lord! See, I do not hide my wounds from You. You are my doctor, I am the sick man.' ... Christ is the true 'doctor' of humanity, Whom the heavenly Father sent into the world to cure mankind, marked in body and spirit by sin and the consequences of sin."
The Holy Father then made reference to the Gospel of St. Mark, which is being read over these Sundays "and presents us with Jesus Who, at the beginning of His public ministry, dedicates Himself entirely to preaching and to curing the sick in the villages of Galilee. The innumerable prodigies He performs on the sick confirm the 'Good News' of the Kingdom of God."
Today's specific Gospel text recounts the healing of a leper "and very effectively expresses the intensity of the relationship between God and man," the Pope said. "Here we see the entire history of salvation in concentrated form," he added.
"That gesture of Jesus, Who stretches out His hand and touches the scarred body of the person who calls on Him, perfectly expresses God's will to restore His fallen creature to health, giving him back 'abundant life' - eternal, full and joyful life. Christ is 'the hand' of God reaching out to humanity, that it may escape from the quicksands of sickness and death, and stand on its own feet on the solid rock of divine love."
The Pope concluded his remarks by entrusting "to Mary, 'Salus infirmorum,' all sick people, especially those who, all over the world, in addition to poor health, also suffer from solitude, poverty and marginalization."
Following the Angelus, Benedict XVI recalled that the 20th Winter Olympic Games are currently being held in the Italian city of Turin. "I hope this magnificent sporting competition may take place in accordance with the Olympic values of loyalty, joy and fraternity," he said, "thus contributing to peace among peoples."
Finally, the Pope referred to the 75th anniversary of the inauguration of Vatican Radio, which falls today February 12, and to "the first radio message to the world, delivered by Pope Pius XI who commissioned the scientist Guglielmo Marconi to build the Vatican radio station. By means of radio, and later of television, it has been possible to bring the Gospel message and the words of the Popes to all peoples more quickly and easily."
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