My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
As I was saying, as when, everyday, and especially when we gather for a celebration like this one, we have to be more and more aware of the fact that God has special love for each one of us.
We know that he hears us when we cry to him. One beautiful example of that is all the beautiful miracles that have happened at the beautiful shrine at Our Lady of Lourdes.
And that’s a continuing sign of God’s love for all of us.
But as we also know, Jesus did not cure every single illness. And sometimes it is hard for us to understand the reality of sickness. We feel, sometimes, so powerless in the face of illness. In the face of suffering, especially when it is our own loved ones that are suffering.
Suffering remains the great mystery in creation. It is, indeed, a great sign of contradiction. And there are no easy answers as why God allows suffering and evil. But just because there are no easy answers that doesn’t mean there are no answers.
And I think this is the beautiful message of our celebration today. Our liturgical celebration today teaches us that we need to trust more in God’s providence and rely more on his mercy.
That’s also the beautiful message of the, as I said, the apparitions of our Blessed Mother in Lourdes and many other parts including our Lady of Guadalupe.
God is always there, loving us. And the love of our Blessed Mother makes even more present for us God’s love for each one of us.
The challenge is to really understand that whatever it is that happens in our lives has a meaning. Even suffering and illnesses. St. John Paul II said that suffering becomes a vocation, a call from God.
It’s Jesus that is calling us when we are sick, saying to us follow me. Come.
St. John Paul II said, “take part through your suffering, in this work of saving the world. A salvation achieved through my suffering.”
It is a challenge. But we have to see, in suffering, our call to participate in the work of salvation of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Because we cannot forget that Jesus suffered, and suffered a lot. Just look at his crucifixion.
So, in the face of suffering and sickness, we need to keep praying for one another. And especially for those who are most in need.
It is always beautiful to see Pope Francis dedicating time to be with people of illnesses during his general audiences in Rome. Some of us had the blessing of being there recently and it is just beautiful to see how he is following the example of Our Lord Jesus Christ in going out of his way to be with people that are especially in need because they are suffering from an illness.
And that’s how we identify ourselves with the Cross of Christ. St. John Paul II gave us also a beautiful example on how to go through a very painful illness, in the last years of his life.
It is, again, identifying ourselves with the Cross of Christ. But we have to remember that God’s love is stronger than death! God will wipe away every tear from every eye!
So God calls us to suffer with others and for others in love. He calls us to be instruments through which he shows his compassion and mercy to those who cry out to him. As I like to say that: as long as there are Christians, no one should have to suffer alone!
So during this season of Lent, as we ask for the grace of a conversion, let us especially ask Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Blessed Mother, to help us to really find the way to accompany our brothers and sisters that are suffering through an illness.
In the Gospel today, we hear the tender compassion of our Blessed Mother Mary. She says: “Do whatever he tells you.”
My brothers and sisters, once again this is a call to faith, a call to deeper conversion.
In the face of suffering, we need to do what Jesus tells us. We need to stand with those who suffer. We need to extend the hand of of God’s mercy. Keeping in mind that Jesus can turn water into wine. That he can turn sickness into health.
Let us especially trust in the loving power of our merciful father.
So on this beautiful memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, let us pray for those who are sick and those who suffer. And may she, Mother of Mercy, strengthen us and give us the courage to be the answer to the prayers of all those who suffer.
1. Readings: Isa. 66:10-14; Judith 13:18-19; John 2:1-11.