(Special Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes) Monday, 11 February 2013 : Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes (Scripture Reflection)

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.

Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the World Day of Prayer for the Sick, Monday, 11 February 2013

Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation or retirement from the office of the Bishop of Rome, and he made his announcement on the Feast day of our Lady of Lourdes, which is also the World Day of Prayer for the Sick, in remembrance of the miraculous healing at Lourdes.

Our Pope has given up his office as he is getting older and unable to shoulder much further the burden of the leadership of the Universal Church, and he is getting sick as old people do. Let us commend him to our Lady of Lourdes, and remember him always in our prayers through his retirement.

Here is the message from the Pope for the occasion, released in January 2013 :

MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER ON THE OCCASION
OF THE TWENTY-FIRST WORLD DAY OF THE SICK
(11 FEBRUARY 2013)

“Go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. On 11 February 2013, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, the
Twenty-first World Day of the Sick will be solemnly celebrated at the Marian
Shrine of Altötting. This day represents for the sick, for health care workers, for the
faithful and for all people of goodwill “a privileged time of prayer, of sharing, of
offering one’s sufferings for the good of the Church, and a call for all to recognize
in the features of their suffering brothers and sisters the Holy Face of Christ, who,
by suffering, dying and rising has brought about the salvation of mankind” (JOHN
PAUL II, Letter for the Institution of the World Day of the Sick, 13 May 1992, 3). On this
occasion I feel especially close to you, dear friends, who in health care centres or at
home, are undergoing a time of trial due to illness and suffering. May all of you be
sustained by the comforting words of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council:
“You are not alone, separated, abandoned or useless. You have been called by
Christ and are his living and transparent image” (Message to the Poor, the Sick and the
Suffering).

2. So as to keep you company on the spiritual pilgrimage that leads us from
Lourdes, a place which symbolizes hope and grace, to the Shrine of Altötting, I
would like to propose for your reflection the exemplary figure of the Good
Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37). The Gospel parable recounted by Saint Luke is part of a
series of scenes and events taken from daily life by which Jesus helps us to
understand the deep love of God for every human being, especially those afflicted
by sickness or pain. With the concluding words of the parable of the Good
Samaritan, “Go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37), the Lord also indicates the attitude that
each of his disciples should have towards others, especially those in need. We need
to draw from the infinite love of God, through an intense relationship with him in
prayer, the strength to live day by day with concrete concern, like that of the Good
Samaritan, for those suffering in body and spirit who ask for our help, whether or
not we know them and however poor they may be. This is true, not only for
pastoral or health care workers, but for everyone, even for the sick themselves, who
can experience this condition from a perspective of faith: “It is not by sidestepping
or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for
accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ,
who suffered with infinite love” (Spe Salvi, 37).

3. Various Fathers of the Church saw Jesus himself in the Good Samaritan; and
in the man who fell among thieves they saw Adam, our very humanity wounded
and disoriented on account of its sins (cf. ORIGEN, Homily on the Gospel of Luke
XXXIV,1-9; AMBROSE, Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Luke, 71-84; AUGUSTINE,
Sermon 171). Jesus is the Son of God, the one who makes present the Father’s love,
a love which is faithful, eternal and without boundaries. But Jesus is also the one
who sheds the garment of his divinity, who leaves his divine condition to assume
the likeness of men (cf. Phil 2:6-8), drawing near to human suffering, even to the
point of descending into hell, as we recite in the Creed, in order to bring hope and
light. He does not jealously guard his equality with God (cf. Phil 2:6) but, filled
with compassion, he looks into the abyss of human suffering so as to pour out the
oil of consolation and the wine of hope.

4. The Year of Faith which we are celebrating is a fitting occasion for intensifying
the service of charity in our ecclesial communities, so that each one of us can be a
good Samaritan for others, for those close to us. Here I would like to recall the
innumerable figures in the history of the Church who helped the sick to appreciate
the human and spiritual value of their suffering, so that they might serve as an
example and an encouragement. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy
Face, “an expert in the scientia amoris” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 42), was able to
experience “in deep union with the Passion of Jesus” the illness that brought her
“to death through great suffering” (Address at General Audience, 6 April 2011). The
Venerable Luigi Novarese, who still lives in the memory of many, throughout his
ministry realized the special importance of praying for and with the sick and
suffering, and he would often accompany them to Marian shrines, especially to the
Grotto of Lourdes. Raoul Follereau, moved by love of neighbour, dedicated his life
to caring for people afflicted by Hansen’s disease, even at the world’s farthest
reaches, promoting, among other initiatives, World Leprosy Day. Blessed Teresa of
Calcutta would always begin her day with an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist
and then she would go out into the streets, rosary in hand, to find and serve the
Lord in the sick, especially in those “unwanted, unloved, uncared for”. Saint Anna
Schäffer of Mindelstetten, too, was able to unite in an exemplary way her sufferings
to those of Christ: “her sick-bed became her cloister cell and her suffering a
missionary service. Strengthened by daily communion, she became an untiring
intercessor in prayer and a mirror of God’s love for the many who sought her
counsel” (Canonization Homily, 21 October 2012). In the Gospel the Blessed Virgin
Mary stands out as one who follows her suffering Son to the supreme sacrifice on
Golgotha. She does not lose hope in God’s victory over evil, pain and death, and
she knows how to accept in one embrace of faith and love, the Son of God who was
born in the stable of Bethlehem and died on the Cross. Her steadfast trust in the
power of God was illuminated by Christ’s resurrection, which offers hope to the
suffering and renews the certainty of the Lord’s closeness and consolation.

5. Lastly, I would like to offer a word of warm gratitude and encouragement to
Catholic health care institutions and to civil society, to Dioceses and Christian
communities, to religious congregations engaged in the pastoral care of the sick, to
health care workers’ associations and to volunteers. May all realize ever more fully
that “the Church today lives a fundamental aspect of her mission in lovingly and
generously accepting every human being, especially those who are weak and sick”
(Christifideles Laici, 38).
I entrust this Twenty-first World Day of the Sick to the intercession of Our
Lady of Graces, venerated at Altötting, that she may always accompany those who
suffer in their search for comfort and firm hope. May she assist all who are
involved in the apostolate of mercy, so that they may become good Samaritans to
their brothers and sisters afflicted by illness and suffering. To all I impart most
willingly my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 2 January 2013
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

(Special Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes) Monday, 11 February 2013 : Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes (Gospel Reading)

John 2 : 1-11

Three days later there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus was also invited to the wedding with His disciples. When all the wine provided for the celebration had been served, and they had run out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

Jesus replied, “Woman, what concern is that to you and Me? My hour has not yet come.”

However, His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Nearby were six stone water jars, set there for ritual washing as practiced by the Jews; each jar could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them to the brim. Then Jesus said, “Now draw some out and take it to the steward.” So they did.

The steward tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing from where it had come; for only the servants who had drawn the water knew. So, he called the bridegroom to tell him, “Everyone serves the best wine first, and when people have drunk enough, he serves that which is ordinary. Instead you have kept the best wine until the end.”

This miraculous sign was the first, and Jesus performed it at Cana in Galilee. In this way, He let His glory appear, and His disciples believed in Him.

(Special Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes) Monday, 11 February 2013 : Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes (Psalm)

Judith 13 : 18bcde, 19

My daughter, may the Most High God bless you more than all women on earth. And blessed be the Lord God, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has led you to behead the leader of our enemies.

Never will people forget the confidence you have shown; they will always remember the power of God.

(Special Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes) Monday, 11 February 2013 : Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes (First Reading)

Isaiah 66 : 10-14c

“Rejoice for Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her. Be glad with her, rejoice with her, all you who were in grief over her, that you may suck of the milk from her comforting breasts, that you may drink deeply from the abundance of her glory.”

For this is what YHVH says : “I will send her peace, overflowing like a river, and the nations’ wealth, rushing like a torrent towards her. And you will be nursed and carried in her arms and fondled upon her lap. As a son comforted by his mother, so will I comfort you. At the sight of this, your heart will rejoice; like grass, your bones will flourish. For it shall be known that YHVH’s hand is with His servant.”

Monday, 11 February 2013 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes (Gospel Reading)

Mark 6 : 53-56

Having crossed the lake, they came ashore at Gennesaret, where they tied up the boat. As soon as they landed, people recognised Jesus, and ran to spread the news throughout the countryside.

Wherever He was, they brought to Him the sick lying on their mats; and wherever He went, to villages, towns, or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplace, and begged Him to let them touch just the fringe of His cloak. And all who touched Him were cured.

Monday, 11 February 2013 : 5th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes (Psalm)

Psalm 103 : 1-2a, 5-6, 10 and 12, 24 and 35c.

Bless the Lord, my soul! Clothed in majesty and splendour; o Lord, my God, how great You are! You are wrapped in light as with a garment.

You set the earth on its foundations, and never will it be shaken. You covered it with the ocean like a garment, and waters spread over the mountains.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys winding among mountains and hills. Birds build their nests close by and sing among the branches of trees.

How varied, o Lord, are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all – the earth full of Your creatures. Bless the Lord, my soul!