Caring for the sick is an essential part of the Church’s mission, Pope says

Caring for and healing the sick is an essential part of the ministry of the Catholic Church, just as it was a constant part of the ministry of Jesus, Pope Francis said.

“Caring for the sick of all kinds is not an ‘optional activity’ for the church, no,” he said Feb. 7. “It’s not something more.”

“This mission is to bring the tenderness of God to suffering humanity. We will be reminded of this in a few days, on February 11, with the World Day of the Sick,” the pope said during his address at the Angelus.

Although it was raining, sometimes heavily, a few hundred people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the midday prayer. With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Rome and the surrounding Lazio region, it was the first time since before Christmas that the pope had come to his studio window to pray with people in the square.

In his main Angelus address, Pope Francis focused on reading the day’s Gospel, which was St. Mark’s account of Jesus healing Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, then the many sick and possessed that were brought to him.

The Gospel says that when the disciples spoke to Jesus about the sick woman, “He approached, took her hand and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she got up. take care of them.”

“There is so much tenderness in this simple act,” the pope said. “The healing power of Jesus meets with no resistance; and the healed person resumes his normal life, immediately thinking of others and not of himself – and this is significant. This is the sign of true ‘health'” .

Healing is told in the first chapter of Saint Mark’s Gospel and many more follow, the pope noted.

Jesus’ care for “those who suffer in body and spirit” has been there since the beginning of his ministry, he said, and is a concrete reflection of God’s care for those who suffer.

The disciples witnessed Jesus’ miracles, but he didn’t want them to be “mere spectators” so he sent them on a mission with the power to heal the sick and cast out demons, the pope said. This mission continues today.

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The first reading of the day was from the Book of Job, which reflects much of the perplexity and anguish that every person feels in the face of suffering.

Human beings, “so elevated in dignity” and yet “so fragile”, the pope said, often ask “Why?”

Jesus does not respond with an explanation, “but with a loving presence that bends down, takes your hand and lifts up, as he did with Peter’s mother-in-law,” Pope Francis said.

“This is the mission that Jesus gave to the church,” he said. “He manifests his lordship in closeness, tenderness, compassion. Closeness, tenderness and compassion are the style of God. God draws near, and he draws near with tenderness and compassion.”

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