.- Pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday to pray the Angelus prayer at noon with Pope Benedict XVI. In his remarks preceding the Angelus, Pope Benedict spoke about the Sunday Gospel in which Jesus shows God’s love through healing a “multitude” of persons.
Benedict XVI spoke about "the meaning and value of illness in every situation in which the human being can find himself."
"In spite of the fact that sickness is part of the human experience," he said, "we are unable to accustom ourselves to it, not only because it sometimes becomes truly burdensome and serious, but essentially because we are made for life.”
“Our 'internal instinct' rightly makes us think of God as the fullness of life, and moreover as eternal and perfect Life," the Holy Father said.
He continued: “When we are tested by suffering and our prayers seem to be in vain, doubts arise within us, and in anguish we ask: what is the will of God?”
“It is to this question that we find an answer in the Gospel,” the Pontiff explained. “For example, in today's passage we read that 'Jesus healed many who were afflicted with various illnesses, and cast out many demons.’ In another passage from St. Matthew, it says that 'Jesus went through all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom and healing every sort of illness and infirmity among the people.'”
Pope Benedict expounded: “Jesus leaves no doubt. God, whose face he himself has revealed to us, is the God of life, who delivers us from all evil. The signs of his power of love are the healings that he performs.”
He added: “In this way he demonstrates that the kingdom of God is near, by restoring men and women to their full integrity in spirit and body.”
"The work of Jesus is extended in the mission of the Church,” the Pontiff continued. “Through the sacraments, it is Christ who communicates his life to multitudes of brothers and sisters, while he heals and comforts countless sick through the many health care activities that the Christian communities carry out with fraternal charity.”
The Holy Father explained, “It is true. How many Christians, priests, religious, and laity, have lent and continue to lend in every part of the world their hands, their eyes, and their hearts to Christ, the true physician of souls and bodies."
He concluded: "Let us pray for all the sick, especially those most seriously ill, who cannot provide for themselves in any way, but are completely dependent on the care of others. May each of them experience, in the concern of those beside him, the power of God's love and the riches of his saving grace. Mary, health of the sick, pray for us."
After the Marian prayer, the pope asked Catholics all over the world to unite in prayer with the faithful of Madagascar, where for weeks there have been clashes and demonstrations between the police and the population. The bishops of the island have called for a day of prayer today, on behalf of national reconciliation and social justice. "I invite you," the pope said, "to unite yourselves with the Catholics of Madagascar to entrust to the Lord those who have died in the demonstrations, and to implore from him, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, the return of harmony, social tranquility, and civil coexistence."
On the occasion of the World Day of the Sick, on February 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Pontiff noted, a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica will be held and presided over by the President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers, Cardinal Lozano Barragán. That afternoon, the pope will meet with the sick and pilgrims in the basilica.
Pope Benedict said, “I assure my special blessing to all the sick, to health care workers, and to volunteers in every part of the world."