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Sunday, February 12, 2006

On Christ's Curing - "'The Hand' of God Stretched Out to Humanity"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2006 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave at midday when he prayed the Angelus from the window of his study with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Yesterday, Feb. 11, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, we observed the World Day of the Sick, which this year had its principal celebrations in Adelaide, Australia, including an international congress on the ever urgent subject of mental health. Illness is a typical feature of the human condition, to the point that it can become its realistic metaphor, as St. Augustine well expresses it in one of his prayers: "Have mercy on me, Lord! Look, I do not hide my wounds from you. You are the doctor, I am the patient; you are merciful, I miserable" ("Confessions," X, 39).

Christ is the true "doctor" of humanity, whom the heavenly Father has sent to the world to cure man, marked in body and spirit by sin and its consequences. Precisely in these Sundays, Mark's Gospel presents Jesus to us who, at the beginning of his public ministry, is completely dedicated to preaching and curing of the sick in the villages of Galilee.

The innumerable miraculous signs he effects with the sick confirm the "good news" of the Kingdom of God. Today's Gospel recounts the cure of a leper and expresses with great effectiveness the intensity of the relationship between God and man, summarized in a wonderful dialogue: "If you will, you can make me clean," says the leper. "I will; be clean," replies Jesus, touching him with his hand and freeing him from leprosy (Mark 1:40-42).

In this passage we see concentrated the whole history of salvation: This gesture of Jesus, who stretches out his hand and touches the sore-ridden body of the person who invokes him, manifests perfectly God's will to cure his fallen creature, restoring life to him "in abundance" (John 10:10), full, happy, eternal life. Christ is "the hand" of God stretched out to humanity so that it can be extricated from the shifting sands of sickness and death, to rise again by leaning on the firm rock of divine love (cf. Psalm 39:2-3).

I would like today to entrust to Mary, "Health of the Sick," especially those in all parts of the world, who not only suffer from lack of health, but also from loneliness, abject poverty and marginalization. I am also thinking in particular of all those who in hospitals or other centers take care of the sick and are dedicated to their cure. May the Holy Virgin help each one to find consolation in body and spirit, thanks to adequate health care and fraternal charity, which becomes concrete care in solidarity.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father addressed this greeting to pilgrims:]

Two days ago the 20th edition opened of the Winter Olympic Games. I address by cordial greetings to the organizers, to officials of the International Olympics Committee and to athletes who have come from all parts of the world. I hope this beautiful sports competition will be characterized by the Olympic values of loyalty, joy and fraternity, thus offering a contribution to peace among peoples.

This Feb. 12 the 75th anniversary is being celebrated of the inauguration of Vatican Radio and of the first radio-message to the world of Pope Pius XI, who asked scientist Guglielmo Marconi to build the Vatican's radiophonic station. With radio, and later with television, the message of the Gospel and the word of Popes have reached all peoples more rapidly and easily.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Pope then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Angelus. Yesterday the Church celebrated the 14th annual World Day of the Sick in Adelaide, Australia. Let us continue to pray for all those who are ill, asking the Lord Jesus to give them strength, courage and grace. Upon all of you I invoke God's abundant blessings and wish you a good Sunday!

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