Last week Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Epiphany by taking time to visit the pediatric ward of Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinico Hospital (h/t Creative Minority Report):
Here is what the pope said to the children with disabilities he met with when he visited the U.S. a few years ago:
God has blessed you with life, and with differing talents and gifts. Through these you are able to serve him and society in various ways. While some people’s contributions seem great and others’ more modest, the witness value of our efforts is always a sign of hope for everyone.
Sometimes it is challenging to find a reason for what appears only as a difficulty to be overcome or even pain to be endured. Yet our faith helps us to break open the horizon beyond our own selves in order to see life as God does. God’s unconditional love, which bathes every human individual, points to a meaning and purpose for all human life. Through his Cross, Jesus in fact draws us into his saving love (cf. Jn 12:32) and in so doing shows us the way ahead – the way of hope which transfigures us all, so that we too, become bearers of that hope and charity for others.
Sickness and disability may seem to be the antithesis of youth, which is always equated with health, vitality, longevity, but that doesn’t mean that the young who suffer have less valuable or meaningful lives. Every human life is loved and wanted by God and he blesses us all with special gifts, however young or handicapped we may be. 11 year old Garvan Byrne, terminally ill and handicapped from birth:
I don’t think it matters how handicapped you are or how sick. You always succeed in something. God gave us each a gift.
Even those who can do nothing can find comfort and help themselves and others through the unique relationship they enjoy with our suffering Lord on the Cross.