CNS photo/Vatican Media

August 5, 2020

Resuming his weekly general audience after the July recess, Pope Francis says that the Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity enable us to heal the physical, social and spiritual infirmities of our times, such as those revealed by the pandemic.

By Robin Gomes

In a catechesis live-streamed from the Apostolic Library on Wednesday morning, Pope Francis assures Christians that despite the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to infect and kill people, with many, especially the poor, going through uncertain times because of socio-economic problems, God’s Kingdom of healing and of salvation is present, as Jesus assures us in Luke’s Gospel.

Healing through faith, hope and charity

This Kingdom of justice and peace, manifested through works of charity, he says, increases and strengthens faith.  Through faith, hope and charity, the Holy Spirit not only heals us but also make us healers.  These virtues “open us to new horizons, even while we are navigating the difficult waters of our time”.

A renewed contact with the “Gospel of faith, of hope and of love”, the Pope says, will enable us “to transform the roots of our physical infirmity and the destructive practices that separate us from each other, threatening the human family and our planet”.

Physical, social and spiritual healing

In his numerous miracles, the Holy Father notes, Jesus “heals not only the physical evil but the entire person”.  By restoring “the person back to the community, He liberates the person from isolation”.

The Pope particularly focuses on the healing of the paralytic at Capernaum, who was lowered down to Jesus from a hole in the roof.  Moved by their faith, Jesus first says to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven”.  And then, as a visible sign, He adds, “Rise, pick up your mat, and go home”.

“Jesus’s action is a direct response to the faith of those people, to the hope they put in Him”, and to the love they show for each other.

Jesus not only heals the paralytic but also forgives his sins and renews his and his friends’ lives as if they are reborn. “It is a physical and spiritual healing, the fruit of personal and social contact”, the Pope says, wondering how much Jesus’ encounter and His healing action must have helped this friendship and faith grow in that house.

The Holy Father reminds Christians that as disciples of Jesus, the doctor of souls and bodies, we too are called to continue “His work of healing and salvation” in a physical, social and spiritual sense.

Church’s social teaching

Although the Church carries out Christ’s healing grace through the Sacraments and provides healthcare services in the remotest corners of the planet, the Pope says, she is not an expert in the prevention or the cure of the pandemic and does not provide specific socio-political pointers. This job, as Pope Saint Paul VI pointed out, belongs to political and social leaders.

However, over the centuries, the Church, by the light of the Gospel, has developed fundamental social principles that can help us move forward in preparing the future that we need. Principles such as the dignity of the person, the notion of the common good, the preferential option for the poor, the universal destination of goods, solidarity, subsidiarity, care for our common home, the Pope says, express the virtues of faith, hope and love in different ways.

These principles, the Pope points out, will help managers and those in authority in the growth of society and help heal the personal and social fabrics during this pandemic.

The Holy Father invites Christians in the coming weeks to reflect with him on these and the pressing questions that the pandemic has revealed, especially the social ills. This will be one in light of the Gospel, of the theological virtues and of the principles of the Church’s social doctrine. The Pope hopes that they can shed light on today’s acute social problems and contribute to the building of a future of hope for future generations.

During the audience, the Holy Father also expressed his closeness with the victims and their families hit by the devastating gas explosion in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on Tuesday.

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