VATICAN CITY (ZENIT.ORG) — Before praying the midday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, July 1, Pope Benedict XVI used the day’s Gospel reading from Mark, recounting the miraculous healing of two women, to reflect on the need — for both patients and health care professionals — to focus on the need for spiritual as well as physical healing.
“On this Sunday the evangelist Mark presents us with the account of two miraculous healings of women: the daughter of the synagogue leader and the woman who suffered from a hemorrhage (cf. Mark 5:21-43). They are two episodes that can be interpreted at two different levels; the purely physical level: Jesus looks upon human suffering and heals the body; and the spiritual level: Jesus has come to heal the human heart and to grant salvation to those who believe in Him.
‘Not by your merit, but by My grace’
“In the first episode, in fact, upon hearing that the little daughter of Jarius is dead, Jesus tells the head of the synagogue: ‘Do not be afraid, just have faith!’ (5:36), brings him with Him to the daughter and exclaims: ‘Little girl, I say to you: get up!’ (5:41). And she got up and began to walk. St. Jerome comments on these words, underscoring Jesus’ salvific power: ‘Little girl, stand up through me: not by your own merit but by my grace. Stand up through me: the healing did not depend on your virtues’ (Homilies on Mark, 3).
“The second episode, that of the woman with the hemorrhage, again manifests how Jesus came to liberate human beings in their totality. In fact, the miracle takes place in two stages: first there is the physical healing but this is closely linked to the deeper healing, that which grants God’s grace to those who welcome Him in faith. Jesus says to the woman: ‘Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be healed of the evil that afflicts you!’ (Mark 5:34).
These two stories of healing are an invitation for us to overcome the purely horizontal and materialistic vision of life. We rightly ask God for so many healings from our problems, from concrete necessities. But what we must ask for insistently is a more solid faith so that the Lord might renew our life, and a firm trust in His love, in His providence that does not abandon us.
Resources of love
“Jesus, who is attentive to human suffering, turns our thoughts also to all those who help the sick to carry their cross, especially doctors, health care workers and those who oversee religious assistance in places of care. They are ‘resources of love,’ who bring serenity and hope to the suffering. In the encyclical ‘Deus caritas est’ I observed that, in this precious service, first of all there must be professional competence – it is a first fundamental necessity – but is not enough by itself. In fact, we are dealing with human beings here, who need humanity and the attentive heart. ‘Consequently, in addition to their necessary professional training, these charity workers need a ‘formation of the heart’: they need to be led to that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to the other’ (n. 31).
Let us ask the Virgin Mary to accompany us on our journey of faith and our commitment of concrete love, especially those who are in need, as we invoke her maternal intercession for our brothers who live with bodily and spiritual suffering.