By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Receiving Christ in the Eucharist, Catholics should in turn give their lives for others, especially those who are sick and suffering, Pope Benedict XVI said.
In his message for the Feb. 11 celebration of World Day of the Sick, the pope asked Catholics to consider "the close connection that exists between the mystery of the Eucharist, the role of Mary in the plan of salvation and the reality of human pain and suffering."
World Sick Day is marked each year on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes; 2008 marks the 150th anniversary of the Marian apparitions in the grotto in Lourdes, France.
In his message, Pope Benedict said, "Mary is the model of total abandonment to the will of God" and, in following her example, Christians learn to place their entire existence in God's hands, including their "joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments in an awareness that trials, pain and suffering enrich the meaning of our pilgrimage on earth."
Mary is near to all who suffer, standing alongside them as she stood alongside her son as he suffered, the pope said.
Worshipping Jesus in the Eucharist, "we entrust ourselves to him as the hope that does not disappoint," Pope Benedict said, and in receiving Communion "we receive him as the medicine of immortality that heals the body and the spirit."
Following Jesus and imitating Mary, Catholics must learn to give their lives for others, especially those who are suffering and in whom "the Christian community recognizes the face of its Lord," Pope Benedict said.
"Mysteriously united to Christ, one who suffers with love and docile abandonment to the divine will becomes a living offering for the salvation of the world," he said.
"The vocation of every Christian is truly that of being, together with Jesus, bread that is broken for the life of the world," the pope said.
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