MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE XXVIII WORLD DAY OF THE SICK 2020
11 February 2020
“Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened,
and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28)
Dear brothers and sisters,
1. Jesus’ words, “Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28) point to the mysterious path of grace that is revealed to the simple and gives new strength to those who are weary and tired. These words of Christ express the solidarity of the Son of Man with all those who are hurt and afflicted. How many people suffer in both body and soul! Jesus urges everyone to draw near to him – “Come to me!” – and he promises them comfort and repose. “When Jesus says this, he has before him the people he meets every day on the streets of Galilee: very many simple people, the poor, the sick, sinners, those who are marginalized by the burden of the law and the oppressive social system... These people always followed him to hear his word, a word that gave hope! Jesus’ words always give hope!” (Angelus, 6 July 2014).
In Mark’s gospel, Jesus responds to the Syrophoenician woman who has asked for her daughter to be healed, that the family children come before the family dogs. He is really saying, “ you, a Syrophoenician, are not of our Jewish family. I am here to tend to my family, not yours.” The woman’s response, “ah yes sir but the house dogs under the table can eat the children’s scraps” evokes Jesus’ compassion. Jesus heals her daughter.
The heart of being Christian is proclaiming and following the message of Jesus. Jesus’ dialogue with his disciples in today’s gospel cuts to the heart of the Christian message asserting that internal disposition of heart, not punctilious external obligation, is central to following Jesus.
Doubtless Jesus was engaged in a discussion about the Jewish food laws as contained in the Jewish law. Does observation of these make one holy and lack of observation defile one? Jesus is forthright: “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from the outside cannot defile. . . .But what comes out of a man, that is what defiles him.”
1 Kings 8:22-23, 27-30; Psalm 84:3, 4, 5+10, 11; Mark 7:1-13
Today is part of the Ordinary time – after Advent and Christmas seasons and before Lent and Easter season. I always thought that term rather odd; is this time so “ordinary?” In some ways I wonder if we can ever consider any time in our liturgical year as ordinary when you consider all that is written during those times. Miracles and teachings and fulfilling prophesies – certainly not meeting my personal definition of something that is ordinary or routine. Can we ever be ordinary after what we just celebrated with the birth of our Savior? Or knowing and anticipating what is to come in the next months?
What struck me in this gospel reading was the last sentence of the reading. St. Mark says: "and as many as touched it were healed." The fame of Jesus in Galilee, even early in his public life, was such that when people heard he was coming they hurried to gather together their sick in hopes for a cure. On this day Jesus was recognized as soon as he came ashore at Gennesaret. And the townspeople rushed in a great frenzy to gather together their sick. They placed them on mats in the marketplace where they hoped to touch the cloak of Jesus as he passed by. When Jesus arrived he was not in a great hurry. He probably moved slowly through the town so as to give as many as possible the opportunity to reach up and touch him. There must have been great crowds in each town that Jesus passed through. And so there were probably a great many healings that day.
▪ January 2020 was filled with many activities in the Vatican. Among them was very exceptional the celebration of the 1st Sunday of the Word of God the 26th. On this day Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass in St. Peter´s Basilica and urged the Christians to make room in their lives for the Sacred Scriptures. He said, the Word that saves does not go looking for well-preserved, clean, safe places. It comes into our complexities, into our darkness. If we are open to the Word of God, we will discover that God is close to us, that he dispels our darkness and, with great love, leads our lives into deep waters. After the Holy Mass, Bibles were distributed to all the faithful.
Is 58:7–10; 1 Kor 2:1–5; Mt 5: 13-16
Jesus tells his disciples that they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He adds, ". . . your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly father."
If we were to witness the events of this passage being acted on stage, I think we would find them humorous: Jesus telling a motley group of puzzled followers, many illiterate, that they are the light of the world. The scene reminds me of an experience in a freshman religion class when I suggested that it was they who would determine how our postmodern world ultimately would be defined. We all laughed upon hearing a clearly audible whisper, "O God." These freshmen were not quite sure they were up to the task. And when we hear the gospel passage in church on Sunday, we assume that Jesus is talking to those first disciples, surely not to us. Deep down, like my freshman class, we know we are not capable of being the light of the world.
1 Kings 3:4-13; Mark 6:30-34
God, grant me an understanding heart.
That’s what Solomon asked God for in the first reading. He sought an understanding heart to tell right from wrong as he governed his people. God was pleased with the request and promised many other things to Solomon as well. I may not be the ruler of a kingdom, but I, too, pray for an understanding heart: To be forgiving, to be strict, to see beyond the facades of anger or humor or sarcasm that mask true feelings of fear or inadequacy or confusion.
Herod was a weak man, one whose interaction with John was a disaster for the king and whose interaction with Jesus was not much better, and so we tend not to look very closely at this dissolute pagan.
The story in Mark has more messages in it than you can shake a stick at. First, Jesus sends the disciples out two by two. Why? Wouldn’t it be more efficient and cover more ground if you sent them out individually? I think there are two reasons for this. Jesus has given the disciples a daunting task. It would be easy to get discouraged. Having an encourager along is important. Second, if I were out healing people by myself, it would be easy to start taking all the credit myself. Having someone to hold me accountable is important. Part of the reason we worship together is to encourage each other and hold each other accountable.