Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
These Sunday Gospels, according to Mark, present us with Jesus healing the sick of all kinds. The World Day of the Sick is well placed in this context, which is why we celebrate it today, February 11th, the feast-day of Our Lady of Lourdes.
With our hearts turned toward the cave of Massabielle, therefore, we contemplate Jesus as the true physician of our bodies and souls – Jesus, whom God the Father sent into the world to heal humanity, marked by sin and its consequences.
Today's Gospel presents us with the healing of a man suffering from leprosy, a disease which in the Old Testament was considered a serious impurity and involved the separation of the leper from the community. His condition was particularly painful, because the mentality of the time made him feel impure before God and other people. That is why the leper in the Gospel begs Jesus with these words: "If you want to, you can purify me!".
When He hears this, Jesus feels compassion. It is very important to focus our attention on this interior resonance of Jesus, as we did for a long time during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. We can never understand the work of Christ, we can never understand Christ Himself, if we do not enter His heart full of compassion. This is what drives Him to reach out to the man suffering from leprosy, to touch him and to say to him: "I want to: be cleansed!".
The most disturbing fact is that Jesus touches the leper, because this was absolutely forbidden by the Law of Moses. Touching a leper meant you were infected, interiorly as well, spiritually: in other words, you become impure. But in this case the impurity does not flow from the leper to Jesus to transmit the disease, but from Jesus to the leper to purify him. In this act of healing we admire both Jesus’ compassion, and His audacity: He is not worried about the disease or the law. He is moved only by the desire to free that man from the curse that oppresses him.
No illness causes impurity. Disease certainly involves the whole person, but in no way does it affect or impede that person’s relationship with God. On the contrary, a sick person can be even more united to God. Instead, it is sin that makes us unclean! Selfishness, pride, entering the world of corruption, these are diseases of the heart from which we need to be cleansed, turning to Jesus like the leper did: "If you want to, you can cleanse me!".
Every time we approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation with a repentant heart, the Lord repeats to us too: "I want to: be cleansed!" Thus the leprosy of sin disappears, we return to live with joy our filial relationship with God and we are readmitted fully into the community.
Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, our Immaculate Mother, we ask the Lord, who brought healing to the sick, to heal our inner wounds with His infinite mercy, to give us back hope and peace in our hearts.
Pope Francis' Remarks after the Angelus
Following the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis opened registration for World Youth Day and greeted pilgrims and visitors present in St Peter's Square
Dear brothers and sisters,
Registration opens today for World Youth Day, which will take place in Panama in January 2019. Right now, along with two young people, I too will register on the internet...
There. I am now enrolled as a pilgrim to World Youth Day. I invite all young people around the world to live this event of grace and fraternity with faith and enthusiasm, either by going to Panama or by participating in their communities.
On February 15th, in the Far East and in various parts of the world, millions of men and women will celebrate the Lunar New Year. I send my cordial greetings to all their families, with the hope that they will live ever more in solidarity, fraternity, desiring to do good, to help create a society in which every person is welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated. I invite you to pray for the gift of peace, a precious treasure to be pursued with compassion, foresight and courage.
I greet families, parishes, associations and all those who come from around Italy and from many parts of the world: in particular, pilgrims from Murcia (Spain) and the children of Guimarães (Portugal). I greet the Congolese Community in Rome and I join in its prayer for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I remind you that this intention will be particularly present on the Day of Prayer and Fasting that I have called for February 23rd.
Today there are many Italian parishes present and many young people who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation, your profession of faith and the catechism. I cannot name each group, but I thank you all for your presence and I encourage you to continue to journey with joy and generosity, witnessing to the goodness and mercy of the Lord everywhere.
I wish everyone a pleasant Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye!