OL of Lourdes.jpgWe celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 19th World Day of the Sick.
God of mercy, we celebrate the feast of Mary, the sinless mother of God. May her prayers help us to rise above our human weakness.

By his wounds you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24)

Many in the world suffer. That is a given and we ought to keep the suffering of others in the forefront of our minds. I think this is appropriate for no other reason than the example of Jesus who showed had compassion on all suffering people, healing them in body, mind, and soul. He even allowed Himself to be conquered by evil and suffering, though we know that He ultimately defeated death by death itself when on the third day he rose from the dead. Jesus’ own suffering and rising is proof of a love that knows know limits. As Benedict has said in various places that “Only a God who loves us to the extent of taking upon himself our wounds and our pain, especially innocent suffering, is worthy of faith.”

But let’s go back to the fact that our Savior suffered and He told us to love our brothers and sisters. We realize that no one seeks suffering for the sake of suffering. At lest no one of clear mind does. Love is not sentimental; it is not an emotion of the immediate; love is defined as willing the good of the other, Aquinas said. It is having concern for the destiny of the other person. And that’s what is celebrated in today’s feast of Our Lady of Lourdes the Church on which we also observe the World Day of the Sick. Benedict’s message is tailored to something that is weighing on his heart because it weighs on the heart of many others in the world.  In his encyclical Spe Salvi he said: “A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through ‘com-passion’ is a cruel and inhuman society” (38). See the point? He cares for the destiny of the world, and thus we care for the destiny of others.. Suffering, Pope Benedict says, is too often frightening and difficult. The Messiah “did not take away suffering and evil from the world, he defeated them at their root.  To the arrogance of Evil he opposed the omnipotence of his Love” (World Day of the Sick 2011, 1; hereafter WDS).

Following the path given by Father Luigi Giussani and Father Julián Carrón in Communion and Liberation is a good one to reflect upon: we are not orphans -that Christ is always present to us and that we face reality as it is presented to us in its full vigor because Christ helps us to carry the burdens of reality. So it is no surprise that the same question of how we approach suffering (our human reality) concerned the Pope too, because ultimately our true self is revealed in how we face reality. He said in the Easter 2007 Urbi et Orbi address: “The true measure of humanity is essentially discovered in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer…both for the individual and the society.”

Two final points:

1. A true Christian -a true disciple of Jesus Christ–can’t but recognize in Jesus suffering.  He invites us to “…create bridges of love and solidarity, so that no one feels alone but near to God and part of the great family of his children” (WDS, 3).

2. “When contemplating the wounds of Jesus our gaze turns to his most sacred Heart, in which God’s love manifests itself in a supreme way. The Sacred Heart is Christ crucified, with the side opened by the lance from which flowed blood and water (cf. Jn 19:34), ‘symbol of the sacraments of the Church, so that all men, drawn to the Heart of the Saviour, might drink with joy from the perennial fountain of salvation'”(Roman Missal, Preface for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) (WDS, 4).