Jesus Christ’s miraculous healing of the daughter of Jairus and a woman who suffered from a hemorrhage should inspire healthcare workers to care for the entire person, physical and spiritual, Pope Benedict XVI said July 1.
“In this invaluable service, one must first be professionally competent – it is a primary, fundamental requirement – but this alone is not enough,” said the Pope in his Sunday Angelus address.
“This service, in fact, is first and foremost about human beings who need humanity and heartfelt attention,” he told thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square beneath a baking Roman sun.
The Pope advocated that those who tend to the sick and elderly have a “formation of the heart” in addition to professional training. He described such workers as “reserves of love” who bring “peace and hope to the suffering.”
Pope Benedict reflected upon the Sunday Gospel passage of the day in which St. Matthew records how Christ twice healed not only a physical ailment but also a spiritual malady too.
“Jesus came to heal the human heart and to give salvation, and he asks for faith in him,” Pope Benedict explained.
He focused on the words Jesus used to revive the daughter of Jairus from deathly slumber: “Little girl, I say to you: Get up!”
The Pope recalled that St. Jerome saw these words as “emphasizing the saving power of Jesus.” In effect, the 4-5th century Doctor of the Church viewed Christ as saying, “Little girl, get up through me: not on account of your own merits, but through my grace. Rise, therefore, through me: being cured does not depend on your virtue.”
Similarly, the second episode in which a woman who had suffered a hemorrhage for many years is cured also reveals “how Jesus came to liberate the human being in its totality.”
In fact, the woman’s healing comes in two distinct phases: a physical healing followed by a deeper spiritual healing which, said the Pope, “bestows the grace of God to those who are open to him in faith.”
Both stories, he suggested, are “an invitation for us to overcome a purely horizontal and materialistic view of life.” While we ask God to cure our physical and concrete needs, he said, we should all the more ask for “an ever stronger faith, because the Lord renews our lives; and a firm trust in his love, in his providence that does not abandon us.”
Pope Benedict concluded by leading pilgrims in the recitation of the traditional midday Marian prayer. He asked the Virgin Mary to “accompany our journey of faith and our commitment to practical love” and especially to give her maternal care to “our brothers who live with suffering in body or spirit.”