Our Lady of Lourdes (World Day of the Sick) Homily- Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoReadings: Isa 66:10-14c; Ps Judith 13:18cde, 19 John 2:1-11
The Healing Role of a MotherToday we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day of the sick. It was on this day, February 11 1858, in Southern France, Lourdes, that the Blessed Virgin Mary made her first of the eighteen appearances to Sister, Saint Bernadette, and then a 14 year old Maria Bernade of Soubirous.
The message of Lourdes is a message of a loving and comforting mother, conceived without sin(immaculate conception) but now wishing her children well, inviting them to conversion, penance, simplicity of life, humility, prayer and charity especially to the poor and the sick. It is a significant prayer and messaging day in the Church that goes back to the times of Popes Leo XIII, Pius the X and the XI who canonized Sister Bernadette in 1933.As you all know it wasn’t easy for Bernadette to initially convince his family, the community and the local church of her encounter with Mary at the grotto and the healing spring of water that she found there. Faith takes some time to grow and mature.
In the years following this apparition there have been many physical and spiritual healings at Lourdes, which has become a place of spiritual pilgrimage today. Many of you have been there. I was there in June 2013, and even went further celebrate Mass in the Convent of Saint Gildard, in Nevers, where the incorruptible body of Saint Bernadette is preserved. My visit to Lourdes was a life changing experience for me, watching people (Catholics and Protestants) regained their faith and walked away from the Grotto, healed and renewed with a loving acceptance of divine will through the intercessory role of Mary, our Mother.
In the first reading of today, Trito Isaiah (Isa 66:10-14c) presents us Jerusalem and God as a mother, who not only gives birth, but breast feeds, nurse, cares, fondles, loves and comforts her children in good times and in bad times, in health and in sickness. She provides for her children.
At Cana in Galilee today, during a weeding ceremony, the same woman that appeared to Sister Bernadette of Sibourous turned to Jesus and said, Son, “they have no wine”(John 2:1-11) and wine was provided, shielding the community from imminent embarrassment and affliction.
Today is also the World Day of Prayer for the Sick. We are invited at this Mass to pray for the sick, the poor, and the suffering especially those very closed to us and members our community. In our formation here, studies and work we also ask God for all the energy we need, the patience, prudence, wisdom, humility and discerning spirit to respond to our vocation bearing the sign of the times and the church of the poor, in mind.
In all these may we continue to recognize in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary her role as the Health of the Sick and the Comfort of the Afflicted.