By Nathan Rumohr
For the World Day of the Sick, celebrated each year on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Feb. 11, the archdiocese turns its eyes to the sick and suffering. As part of that, Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, celebrated Mass Feb. 10 in Our Lady of Sorrows Church.
"This day also gives us the occasion to express profound gratitude to those of you who care so lovingly for the sick among us," said the archbishop.
He thanked the Knights of Malta, Providence Health Care, and volunteer caregivers. "Thank you for bringing Christ's healing presence to our families."
He said the contributions made by volunteer groups and family members show the "authentic signs" of the Gospel.
"Your care for the suffering speaks the language of universal love, a language that is understandable to all," the archbishop said, quoting Pope Benedict XVI's 2006 Address to the Sick.
In the day's reading from the Gospel of St. Mark, Jesus heals a deaf man who also suffered from a speech impediment.
"Following this example that Jesus gave, the Church has continued this same mission of healing down through the centuries," the archbishop said. "The Church's principal task is to proclaim the kingdom of God, but this very proclamation is to bring about the healing of people."
He also noted the miracle tells us of Jesus's profound respect for the body. "Jesus's response to physical suffering is never one of indifference. There are no words of His in the Gospel that record Him ever saying, 'Don't worry, just wait; the body counts for nothing.'"
Jesus used physical signs, Archbishop Miller said, to show His love to humanity. "We call these signs sacraments."
"The sacraments follow us all our days: from our mother's arms at the baptismal font to our dying breath. At every step of the way Jesus is with us, drawing us ever closer to Himself."
The apostles saw how much Jesus loved the sick, and that He showed that love by anointing the sick and praying over them.
"Whatever the difficult situation we are in, the anointing of the sick gives us the grace to face it with courage and, above all, with hope."
Archbishop Miller also said the sacrament wasn't just for the terminally ill.
"The Church encourages the sick and elderly not to wait until the point of death to ask for the sacrament and to seek its grace."