Sunday, October 14, 2007

Angelus: Salvation is complete radical healing

Pope Benedict XVI blesses faithful from his studio's window overlooking St. Peter's square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2007. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

~translated by Papa Ratzinger Forum

Dear brothers and sisters:

The Gospel on this Sunday presents Jesus healing ten lepers, of whom only one, a Samaritan and therefore a foreigner, comes back to thank him (cfr Lk 17,11-19). The Lord tells him, "Rise and go, your faith has saved you!" (Lk 17,19).

This Gospel page invites us to a double reflection. Above all, it makes us think of two degrees of healing: one, more superficial, is of the body; the second, more profound, touches the most intimate part of the person, what the Bible calls the 'heart', and from there, radiates to the whole being.

'Salvation' is the complete radical healing. The common language, which makes a distinction between health (salute) and salvation (salvezza), helps us to understand that salvation is far more than healing: it is, in fact, a new life, full and definitive.

Moreover, Jesus, as in other circumstances, says the word, "Your faith has saved you." It is faith which saves man, re-establishing him in his profound relation with God, with himself and with others; and faith is expressed in acknowledgment.

Whoever, like the healed Samaritan, knows how to be grateful, shows that he does not consider everything 'owed' to him, but as a gift which - even if it comes from other men or nature - ultimately comes from God.

Faith therefore means opening up to the grace of the Lord, too acknowledge that everything is a gift, everything is grace. How much treasure is hidden in that small word 'grace'.

Jesus heals 10 men afflicted with leprosy, a sickness considered at that time a 'contagious impurity' which required ritual purification (cfr Lv 14,1-37). In fact, the leprosy that truly disfigures man and society is sin - pride and selfishness which generate indifference, hate and violence in the human spirit.

No one but God, who is Love, can heal this leprosy of the spirit, which disfigures the face of humanity. Opening his heart to God, man is converted and is interiorly healed of evil.

"Be converted and believe in the Gospel' (cfr Mk 1,15): Jesus began his public life with this invitation, which continues to resound in the Church, and even the Most Blessed Virgin in her apparitions, specially in recent times, has always renewed that appeal.

Today, we think especially of Fatima where, 90 years ago, from May 13 to October 13 of 1917, the Virgin appeared to three shepherd children: Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco.

Thanks to radio-TV linkage, I wish to be spiritually present at that Marian sanctuary, where Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, presided in my name at the concluding ceremonies of this very significant anniversary.

I warmly greet him, the other cardinals and bishops present, the priests who work in the new Sanctuary, and the pilgrims who have come from every part of the world for this occasion.

Let us ask Our Lady that all Christians may have the gift of true conversion so that the perennial evangelical message may be announced and borne witness to, indicating to mankind the way to authentic peace.

After the Angelus prayers, the Holy Father started his greetings in various languages by addressing the pilgrims in Fatima in Portuguese:

I extend my blessing today for all who join me in the Angelus today - physically present or united by means of media - to the pilgrims gathered at the Sanctuary of Fatima, in Portugal, where, for 90 years, the appeals of the Virgin Mary continue to resound, calling on her children to live according to their baptismal vows in all the moments of existence.

Everything is possible and made easy if we remember the admonition Jesus himself made on the Cross when he said, "Woman, behold your son!" She is the refuge and the way who leads to God.

As I greet Cardinal Legate Tarcisio Bertone, the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima and all the Portuguese bishops, as well as all other bishops present and each of the pilgrims in Fatima, I exhort everyone to personally renew his consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Let us match this act of worship with a life that is ever more obedient to the divine will and in the spirit of filial service and devout imitation of the celestial Queen. Never forget the Pope!

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