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KOTA KINABALU – While the experience of illness can certainly test our faith, for Pope Francis it is an opportunity to entrust ourselves to the tenderness and mercy of Christ, which Mary, his mother, shows us how to do.
“Illness, above all grave illness, always places human existence in crisis and brings with it questions that dig deep,” the Pope said in his message for the 24th World Day of the Sick, noting that our first reaction to illness is often “one of rebellion,” asking ourselves “Why has this happened to me?”
“We can feel desperate, thinking that all is lost, that things no longer have meaning,” the Pope said, explaining that while one’s faith in God is tested in these moments, they also reveal the positive aspects of faith.
This is not because faith makes illness, pain, or the questions that arise disappear, but “because it offers a key by which we can discover the deepest meaning of what we are experiencing; a key that helps us to see how illness can be the way to draw nearer to Jesus who walks at our side.”
And this key, he said, “is given to us by Mary, our Mother, who has known this way at first hand.”
Scores of parishioners heard the timely advice of the pope as they celebrated the World Day of the Sick with a Mass, to mark the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes at Sacred Heart Cathedral on 10 Feb 2016, where the Anointing of the Sick was also offered.
Father Jeffri Gumu, as main celebrant, was joined at the altar by Fr Rhobby Mojolou and Fr Abel Madisang, and assisted by Deacon Joshua Liew. In his homily, Fr Jeffri chose to share the Pope’s message given for the 24th World Day of the Sick, which would be celebrated on Feb 11 in the Holy Land.
The theme for the day, “Entrusting Oneself to the Merciful Jesus like Mary: ‘Do whatever he tells you,’” is especially fitting for the Jubilee of Mercy, the Pope said.
The pontiff said he decided to centre his message for the day on the Gospel account of the wedding feast of Cana, where Christ performed his first miracle through the intervention of his mother.
With Mary’s attentiveness and personal involvement with the newlywed couple in mind, as well as her docile attitude toward her son, the Pope asked that we learn from the wedding feast of Cana what God wants to teach us about the World Day of the Sick.
The pope wrote, “The wedding feast of Cana is an image of the Church: at the centre there is Jesus who in his mercy performs a sign; around him are the disciples, the first fruits of the new community; and beside Jesus and the disciples is Mary, the provident and prayerful Mother. Mary partakes of the joy of ordinary people and helps it to increase; she intercedes with her Son on behalf of the spouses and all the invited guests. Nor does Jesus refuse the request of his Mother.”
Mary, Pope Francis said, has “a heart that is maternal and full of mercy, like her Son; hands that want to help, like the hands of Jesus who broke bread for those who were hungry, touched the sick and healed them. In Mary’s concern we see reflected the tenderness of God.”
Francis urged the faithful to ask Mary to intercede in helping them to have her same readiness to serve those in need, particularly those who are ill. “We too can be hands, arms and hearts which help God to perform his miracles, so often hidden,” he said, explaining that while the experience of suffering “will always remain a mystery, Jesus helps us to reveal its meaning.”
Pope Francis closed his message by praying that all who are sick and suffering would draw inspiration from Mary, entrusting to her their trials as well as their joys. – CS/CNA