Today we commemorate especially our Lady of Lourdes, Mary, who appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous 155 years ago, in February 1858, who showed her to a spring, which today is well-known as the grotto with the spring, where if one who is sick is to immerse himself or herself in it, in faith, they will be healed. This is why, today, is also the World Day of Prayer for the Sick. All the sick in this world are commemorated today. But not only physical illness we should consider, but rather, we should also pray for all those mentally sick, and most importantly those who are empty spiritually and seek the Lord.
Today also, we have received the news of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, which will be effective at the last day of this month on 28 February 2013, at 8.00 pm Rome time. He has been discerning on this matter for years of his Pontificate, and finally came into a decision which he announced today, well, to the surprise of the entire Church and the world. Our Pope too is old, and he will be turning 86 years old this coming April. His walking is increasingly becoming difficult, and he has to use a portable platform to move around in his celebrations of the Mass and Vespers at the Vatican.
One would also note that the Pope no longer travel overseas much in these past two years. Our Pope loves to travel and visit the faithful, his flock, around the world, and he placed a great importance in his Apostolic journeys. However, as his strength to do so is waning, this is another reason why he decided to withdraw from the office of the Bishop of Rome and pray. That the next Bishop of Rome, as our Pope will be able to continue his works, and once again visit God’s people around the world.
Mary is honoured in our faith, as the mother of Christ, and our Pope has deep devotion to Mary, and our late Pope too, Blessed Pope John Paul II had very great dedication to her, especially in his motto, Totus tuus, in which he give himself totally to God, through Mary, which in his coat-of-arms is symbolised as the letter ‘M’ at the foot of the cross, just as Mary once stood faithfully, though sorrowful, watching at her crucified and beloved son.
God who created our world and our universe, loves all His creations so much, and that is why He said that all are good. Sadly, the power of the rebellious angel, Lucifer, as Satan, has ruined that perfect goodness, and brought men away from the Lord. Mankind, being the Lord’s most beloved creation, has been taken away, and an unbridgeable chasm lay between the Lord and us. However, so great is God’s love for us that He is willing to come down to us, to reach out to us, through Jesus His Son, whose sacrifice on the Cross on calvary became the great bridge that span the chasm between us and God, finally allowing us to return to He who created us.
Mary, who we commemorate today as the Lady of Lourdes, is the one who made all this possible, through her great dedication to God, by allowing God’s will to manifest through her, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ was incarnate as man, through Mary. Through her, we have Salvation in Christ. Her life and her steadfastness in her support of her Son in His ministry is an example to all of us who believe in Christ. Despite all the challenges and humiliations, she stayed strong and did not leave the side of her Son until the very end.
Mary is our great intercessor, and the greatest Saint of all, who is the first to be brought to heaven, bodily in the Assumption, when Mary was brought up to heaven by the Lord Himself, her Son, at the end of her earthly life. She often then came again to visit this world, through visions to those whom the Lord has chosen, of which one of this occured in Lourdes 155 years ago.
She always called the world to repent from the sins it has made, and for all people to return back to Christ, who is the source of all Salvation. She longs for all of us to be able to be reunited with God the Father, through Christ His Son, who as the great bridge, becomes our sole hope of reunion with the Father. Mary is like the handmaid of the Lord, who nourishes us along the way of the great bridge, and the guide, who keeps us at the centre of the cross that is the bridge.
Even when we are crossing that great bridge, temptations and sins are abound, and we may sway to the left or right, we may fall off the bridge, into the chasm that is death and ultimate separation from God in hell. Never fear though, for in Mary indeed, we have our greatest guide. For who is better to lead us to Christ than through Mary, His mother? Just like in Cana, in the wedding, that Mary made Christ manifested His first miracle, as Christ is obedient to His mother and her love for mankind, just as He is obedient to the will of the Father.
Through Mary, we can better reach God our Father, through Christ His Son. Let us all pray that with Mary’s intercession, the Lord will listen to our sincere wish to be reunited with Him, and our sincere wish to repent from our sins and our sinful ways, and to rejoice forever in Him who created us and loved us dearly.
Let us also pray for our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, who in his great humility and his great devotion to Mary, has decided to resign his office, to dedicate himself in prayerful life to the end of his life. He also dedicated our Church to Mary and to the Lord, whom he asked to guide the Cardinal electors in their election of the new Pope. May God be with all of them, with all of us, with the Church God has established on this world, that we will always, led by the Bishop of Rome, as Christ’s Vicar in this world, be a shining beacon of light in the great darkness of this world. Amen.