Message for World Day of the Sick

I still have in my heart the moment when, during the course of the pastoral visit to Turin, I was able to pause in reflection and prayer before the Holy Shroud, before that suffering face, which invites us to reflect on He who took upon himself the passion of man, of every time and place, even our sufferings, our difficulties, our sins. How many faithful, during the course of history, have passed in front of that burial cloth, which enveloped the body of a crucified man, and which completely corresponds to what the Gospels hand down to us about the passion and death of Jesus! To contemplate it is an invitation to reflect upon what St. Peter writes: ‘By his wounds you have been healed’ (1 Pt 2:24). The Son of God suffered, died, but rose again, and precisely because of this those wounds become the sign of our redemption, of forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father; however they also become a test for the faith of the disciples and our faith: every time that the Lord speaks about his passion and death, they do not understand, they reject it, they oppose it. For them, as for us, suffering is always charged with mystery, difficult to accept and to bear. The two disciples of Emmaus walk sadly because of the events that had taken place in those days in Jerusalem, and only when the Risen One walks along the road with them do they open up to a new vision (cf. Lk 24:13-31). Even the apostle Thomas manifests the difficulty of believing in the way of redemptive passion: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25). But before Christ who shows his wounds, his response is transformed into a moving profession of faith: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28). What was at first an insurmountable obstacle, because it was a sign of Jesus’ apparent failure, becomes, in the encounter with the Risen One, proof of a victorious love: “Only a God who loves us to the extent of taking upon himself our wounds and our pain, especially innocent suffering, is worthy of faith.”