Reflecting on Jesus’ miracles of physical healing, which are being described in the Sunday Gospel readings during the coming weeks, Pope Benedict XVI stressed on Sunday, that modern man is no less plagued by paralysis--namely caused by sin--and in need of God’s healing and mercy, than the scriptural figures in Jesus’ time were.
Before praying his Sunday Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope spoke specifically on the healing of the paralytic man, recounted in Sunday's liturgy from the Gospel of Mark which, he said, represents the image of human beings "prevented by sin from moving freely ... and from giving the best of themselves.”
“Indeed”, he said, “evil, taking root in the soul, binds man ... and little by little paralyzes him.”
It is for this reason, Benedict said, that Jesus “first says: 'your sins are forgiven,' and only afterwards adds: 'rise, take up your pallet and go home.' ... The message is clear. Man, paralyzed by sin, has need of the mercy of God that Christ came to give him, so that, healed in his heart, all his life can again blossom."
He added that "Today too, humans bear the mark of sin that prevents them from making swift progress in those values of fraternity, justice and peace that they have proposed in solemn declarations.”
Asking why this is the case, the Pope pointed out that “In historical terms, we well know that there are many causes and that the problem is a complex one; but the Word of God invites us to look with faith and, like the men who carried the paralytic, to trust that only Jesus can truly heal."
Reflecting on his forbearers, "especially the beloved John Paul II," Benedict commended their fundamental choice "to lead the men and women of our time to Christ the Redeemer so that ... He may heal them.”
“I too”, he said, “wish to continue along this road. In particular with my first Encyclical 'Deus caritas est,' I sought to show believers and the whole world that God is the source of authentic love.”
“Only the love of God”, the Pope added, “can renew the heart of man, and only if cured at heart can paralyzed humanity once again arise and walk."
After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father called to mind the catastrophic landslide which recently destroyed two villages in the Philippines.
"I ask you," he told the crowd, "to join me in praying for the victims, their loved ones and all those affected. May the grieving families experience the consolation of the Lord's presence and rescue workers be assured of our support and concern."