Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Man's life is not a disposable good, but a treasure to be preserved and cared for with as much attentiveness as possible, from the moment of its beginning to its ultimate and natural fulfillment." This is the warning expressed today by Benedict XVI for the World Day of the Sick, in his greetings to those at St. Peter's Basilica who took part this afternoon in the Mass celebrated by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers.
"Life is a mystery," the pope continued, "which intrinsically requires responsibility, love, patience, charity, on the part of all and of each. It is even more necessary to surround with concern and respect those who are sick and suffering. This is not always easy, but we know where we can get the courage and patience to confront the vicissitudes of earthly existence, in particular sickness and every kind of suffering. For us Christians, it is in Christ that the enigma of suffering and death finds its answer.
"In the message for today's commemoration, I wanted to put special focus on sick children, who are the weakest and most defenseless creatures. It's true! If the sight of a suffering adult already leaves us speechless, what can be said when the evil strikes an innocent child? How can we perceive, even in such difficult situations, the merciful love of God, who never abandons his children in their time of trial? Such questions are frequent, sometimes troubling, and they can never be adequately answered on the merely human level, because the meaning of suffering, sickness, and death remains unfathomable for our minds. But the light of faith comes to our aid. The Word of God reveals to us that even these evils are mysteriously 'embraced' by the divine plan of salvation; faith helps us to believe that human life is beautiful and worthy of being lived to the full even when it is exhausted by evil. God created man for happiness and for life, while sickness and death entered the world as the consequence of sin. But the Lord has not abandoned us to ourselves; He, the Father of life, is man's physician par excellence, and he does not cease to stoop down lovingly to suffering humanity."
Finally, Benedict XVI pointed out that John Paul II wanted the World Day of the Sick to coincide with the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. "In that sacred place, our heavenly Mother came to remind us that we are only passing travelers on this earth, and that man's true and definitive home is Heaven. We must all strive toward this destination. May the light that comes 'from Above'," he concluded, "help us to understand and give meaning and value even to the experience of suffering and death." The light of thousands of candles recalling the nighttime processions in Lourdes accompanied Benedict XVI's blessing for the sick people present, and for those with them.