Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The exploitation of the people is "a shameful scourge, unworthy of a civilized society" denounced Pope Francis before the Angelus marking the liturgical memorial of Saint Josephine Bakhita, "the African nun who as a child suffered the dramatic experience of being a victim of trafficking."
He called attention to the initiative of the Unions and Superiors General who have dedicated today to prayer and reflection against trafficking in persons. "I encourage - he said - those who are committed to helping men, women and children enslaved, exploited, abused as tools for labor or pleasure and often tortured and mutilated. I hope that those who have the responsibilities of government move decisively to remove the causes of this shameful wound, it is true, a shameful wound, a wound unworthy of a civilized society. Each of us should feel called upon to be the voice of our brothers and sisters, humiliated in their dignity. Let us all pray together to Our Lady for them and for the their families. "
Before the Marian prayer, the Pope spoke to the 50 thousand people present in St Peter's Square, of the duty to bring "the light of the Word of God and the power of His grace" to sick people and their caregivers.
Today's Gospel, in fact, "presents Jesus who, after preaching on the Sabbath in the synagogue, heals many sick people. To preach and to heal: this is Jesus main activity in his public life. In his preaching He announces the Kingdom of God and in his healing shows that it is near, it is in our midst. Entering the house of Simon Peter, Jesus sees that his mother-in-law is in bed with a fever, and immediately takes her hand, heals her and tells her to arise. After sunset, when the Sabbath has ended and people could leave their homes and bring him the sick, he heals a multitude of people afflicted by diseases of all kinds: physical, mental, spiritual. Having come to earth to announce and realize the salvation of the whole person and of all men, Jesus shows a particular fondness for those who are wounded in body and spirit: the poor, the sinners, the possessed, the sick, the marginalized. he thus reveals both physician of souls of both bodies, good Samaritan man. And 'the true savior, Jesus saves, Jesus cares, Jesus heals".
"The reality of the healing of the sick by Christ, invites us to reflect on the meaning and value of illness. At this reminds us of the World Day of the Sick, which we will celebrate next Wednesday 11 February, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes . I bless the initiatives prepared for this day, especially the Vigil to be held in Rome on the evening of February 10. And here I would like to pause and remember in prayer the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, Archbishop Zimowski, who is very ill in Poland. A prayer for him, for his health, because he prepared this day and he accompanies us with his suffering".
"The salvific work of Christ does not end with his person or during his earthly life; it continues through the Church, which is God's sacrament of love and tenderness for men. By sending his disciples out on mission, Jesus gives them a dual mandate: to proclaim the Gospel of salvation and to heal the sick (cf. Mt 10.7 to 8). Faithful to this teaching, the Church has always considered care of the sick an integral part of her mission. 'The poor and suffering will always be with you ', warns Jesus (cf. Mt 26:11), and the Church constantly finds them on her path, considering the sick as a privileged way to encounter Christ, to welcome and serve him. Caring for a sick person, welcoming him, serving him is to serve Christ, the sick person is the flesh of Christ. This also happens in our time, when, despite the many achievements of science, people's inner and physical suffering raises serious questions about the meaning of disease and pain and of the death. These are existential questions, to which the pastoral action of the Church must respond in the light of faith, having before our eyes the Crucifix, in which appears all the saving mystery of God the Father, who for love of men did not spare his own Son (cf. Rom 8:32). Therefore, each of us is called to bring the light of the Word of God and the power of His grace to those who suffer and those who assist them, family members, doctors, nurses, so that service to the sick is carried out with increasing humanity, with generous dedication, with evangelical love, tenderly. The Mother Church, through our hands cares for the sick, and does so with tenderness. Let us pray to Mary, Health of the sick, so that every person who is ill can experience, thanks to the care of whoever is close to them, the power of God's love and the comfort of His paternal tenderness. "
Pope Francis has Hail Mary recited at the Angelus “to support the victims of trafficking and convert the hearts of traffickers.” The world seems to be getting used to this "aberrant plague", which is “ugly, cruel, criminal!" The pontiff mentioned the parables of the treasure and precious pearl. The quest "is the essential condition for finding". The discovery of the treasure and the pearl entails "sacrifice, detachment and renunciation”. The joy of the farmer and merchant in the parable "is the joy of each of us when we discover the closeness and consoling presence of Jesus in our lives."
"Experience shows that such modern forms of slavery are far more widespread than previously imagined, even – to our scandal and shame –within the most prosperous of our societies," he told the "Santa Marta Group".
During the Angelus, Pope Francis said that today is the World Day of the Sick. The pontiff also registered via the Internet for World Youth Day in Panama in January 2019, and mentioned that 23 February will be day of prayer and fasting for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.