In this circumstance we turn our gaze in particular to the suffering and risen Christ. In taking on the human condition, the Son of God accepted to five it in all its aspects, including pain and death, fulfilling in his person the words he spoke at the Last Supper: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends' (Jn 15:13). In celebrating the Eucharist, Christians proclaim and share in the sacrifice of Christ, for "by his wounds [we] have been healed' (cf. 1 Pt 2:24) and uniting themselves with him, "preserve in their own sufferings a very special particle of the infinite treasure of the world's redemption, and can share this treasure with others" (Salvifici doloris, n. 27).
The imitation of Jesus, the suffering Servant, has led great saints and simple believers to turn their illnesses and pain into a source of purification and salvation for themselves and for others. What great prospects of personal sanctification and cooperation for the salvation of the world does the path marked out by Christ and by so many of his disciples open to our sick brothers and sisters! It is a difficult path, because the human being does not discover the meaning of suffering and death on his own, but it is always a possible path with the help of Jesus, interior Master and Guide (cf. Salvifici doloris, nn. 26-27).
Just as the Resurrection transformed Christ's wounds into a source of healing and salvation, so for every sick person the light of the risen Christ is a confirmation that the way of fidelity to God can triumph in the gift of self until the Cross and can transform illness itself into a source of joy and resurrection. Is not this the proclamation that echoes in hearts at every Eucharistic celebration when the people proclaim: "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again"? The sick, also sent out as labourers into the Lord's vineyard (cf. Christifideles laici, n. 53), by their example can make an effective contribution to the evangelization of a culture that tries to remove the experience of suffering by striving to grasp its deep meaning with its intrinsic incentives to human and Christian growth.
~Joannes Paulus II
From Castel Gandolfo, 6 August 1999, the Transfiguration of the Lord.
Weekly Edition in English
25 August 1999