Friday, 11 February 2022 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the miraculous apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God in Lourdes, a small secluded area in the southern part of France. Mary in her apparition as Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to the young girl named Bernadette in a grotto where today the great Basilica of Our Lady of Lourdes now stands, and that young girl eventually became known as St. Bernadette Soubirous.

At that time, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the young girl Bernadette as a lady dressed in white with beads of rosary on her, girdled in blue and with flowers by her. That supernatural vision startled the young St. Bernadette at first, and scared her, but Our Lady reassured her and asked her to pray the rosary together. She made her appearance a few more times even as St. Bernadette’s parents and others were skeptical of what had happened. Some of them even thought that she had hallucinated, seen an evil spirit or simply was lying to cover up some misdeeds.

But St. Bernadette kept on visiting the grotto where she met the apparition of Our Lady despite the opposition from her parents and others, and Our Lady revealed to St. Bernadette a hidden spring of water which would soon became truly famous as the source of many miraculous healings, of which some of them were certified as truly miraculous in nature. Initially this was received with much skepticism both from the Church and from the secular authorities, which resulted in attempts to prevent further spread of the devotion.

It was then that Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette, revealing to her who she truly was, the Blessed Mother of God, the Immaculate Conception. This revelation brought a shock to a local priest who immediately believed in what St. Bernadette told him about the Marian apparition. That is because the illiterate St. Bernadette living in the secluded village that is where Lourdes was located could not have known about the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception which at that time was just recently declared by the Pope in Rome, and at that time, it would have taken a long time for the message to be propagated throughout the Christendom.

It was therefore the beginning of the growth in the popularity and the attraction of the Shrine at Lourdes, which grew to became an international phenomenon drawing millions annually as many people who are sick sought to seek healing and recovery through the miraculous occasions and reassurances from the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Lourdes. The Church also designated today, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes as the World Day of the Sick as a reminder that there are many people who are suffering from physical and even mental maladies and sickness all around the world.

Today, as we celebrate this Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes let us all therefore remind ourselves to put our trust in the Lord, He Who has sent to us His blessed Mother, Our Lady of Lourdes to be our intercessor and to help guide us to His loving embrace. The miraculous healings were not due to superstitions and the quality of the waters of the grotto of Lourdes, but rather, it was the faith that the sick had in the Lord which brought them to healing and the miraculous things that happened there, just as at the time of the Lord, He healed the sick and how if we remember a woman with haemorrhage problem was healed by her faith in Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are also reminded that we are all people who are sick and are in need of God’s help. I know many of us may wonder what we are sick from since we are in such good health. We may indeed be perfectly healthy in the body but we are all suffering from the sickness due to our sins. Yes, all of us are sinners and sin is the sickness that is actually eating us from within, corrupting us and affecting us adversely by its corrupting nature. Through sin we have been made sick in our spirit and soul, and the only healing we can get is through God and His loving mercy.

Therefore today all of us are reminded of how sinful we are and regardless how big or small, or how significant those sins may be, all of us are in need of healing from God, as unlike any other physical ailments and maladies, God alone can heal us from our sins. It is through Him alone that we can be freed from the clutches and tyranny of sin and evil. The Lord offered us His healing and forgiveness freely, and He gave us all His mother to care for us and to help guide us in our journey towards Him, so that by the intercession and guidance of Our Lady of Lourdes we may come to be fully healed body and soul.

Let us therefore ask Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Lourdes to intercede for us sinners, who are sickened by sin, and who are suffering the consequences of our infidelity and weakness. Let us ask her to pray for us and guide us in our path to seek the healing from the hands of her Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. May God also look kindly upon us and show us His mercy, love and compassion, now and always. Amen.

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