Card. Turkson: Those who care for the sick lend their hands to God's mercy
Adriana Masotti - Vatican City
Cardinal Peter K. A. Turkson on Friday presided over the celebration of Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the XXX World Day of the Sick on the theme "Be merciful, as your Father is merciful". The Day is celebrated in memory of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lourdes who, the cardinal said in his homily, gave the world a "sign of God's mercy that accompanies suffering humanity on its journey through life".
Consolation is offering one's presence to those who suffer
"Letting oneself be attracted and guided by the logic of God's mercy," the cardinal observed, "means returning to the heart of Christian choice. By experiencing the Lord's mercy one learns to have mercy. The cardinal was refering to the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah where God's consolation is like that of a mother: "As a mother consoles her child, so will I console you". Cardinal Turkson explained that consolation and consoling mean "to encourage, to exhort, to bring joy". Consolation", continued the Cardinal, "is a service rendered to people, in which the consoler offers the gift of his own presence to those who at that moment are experiencing a situation of fragility", welcoming their feelings within himself. And he does so by drawing inspiration and strength from the God who has always in history made himself close to humanity, thus also becoming a witness "of the works of God accomplished in the lives of his own".
Witnessing to the love received
The theme of witnessing to the love of God received, which gives hope to others that they will receive the same, brings us back to today's Gospel passage which recounts the meeting between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth after the angel Gabriel's announcement, he said. The angel had also announced to the Virgin the conception of Elizabeth "as a proof and testimony of the power of God", already at work in Mary herself. The visit to Elizabeth expresses Mary's charity towards her elderly relative, but it is also a confirmation to Mary of the angel's words. "Elizabeth was thus a witness for Mary," Cardinal Turkson said, "what God did for Elizabeth, He now does for Mary, and Mary praises the Lord in her song of the Magnificat".
The hands of health workers as a sign of God's mercy
From generation to generation God's mercy is extended, the cardinal recalled, and we celebrate it this morning, as everywhere when pastors and the faithful "invoke the name of the Lord to anoint the sick and infirm". So in hospitals, in homes for the elderly, in hospices and in all places where the most fragile people are cared for. In these places, being merciful "acquires a special meaning for all health care workers", to whom Pope Francis pays so much attention and to whom he reminds: "Your hands touching the suffering flesh of Christ can be a sign of the merciful hands of the Father". Mercy is a balm of life, said the cardinal, and thanks to the Holy Spirit we can become "balms of life for others". Cardinal Turkson concluded his homily by inviting us to look again to Lourdes "where in the healing of infirmities and bodily ailments the Blessed Virgin Mary gives men a foretaste of the salvation that her Son gives!"