Dear Brother and Sisters,
I am happy to be able to join you, through this video message, in the celebration of the 5th centenary of the beginning of evangelization in the Philippines. I know that you have been preparing yourselves for a long time in order to live out this event, and during these days you celebrate it in a special way, gathered in the second national meeting on missions. I would like to share with you three mysteries of our faith which characterize the most profound Christian roots of your people: NAZARETH, the CROSS and PENTECOST.
Let us contemplate Nazareth, the tenderness of Santo Niño, which is a symbol of the arrival of Christianity to your archipelago. It brings us back to the hidden life of the Holy Family in Nazareth. Mary and Joseph educated with love the child Jesus. Likewise, you, opening the doors of your family to the Santo Niño, will be able to transmit to your children the faith which you have received from your parents. Thank you for the profound sense of family, of community, of fraternity, which keeps you united, which keeps you form in faith, joyful in hope, prompt in charity. All of you, pilgrim people of God in the Philippines, pastors and faithful, are also a people who know how to accompany Jesus, the Nazarene, along the way of the cross.
The Cross. How many difficult moments have you suffered? I think, especially, during these years of immediate preparation for the Jubilee: earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, and the Covid-19 pandemic. But in spite of all the pain and devastation, you have known how to carry the cross and to continue walking. You have suffered much but also you have risen up one time after another. Continue working, reconstructing, helping one another like good Cyrenians. Thank you also for giving witness to that fortitude and confidence in God who never abandons us. Thank you for your patience for your always looking forward in the midst of difficulties and for walking continuously. Thank you.
Lastly, Pentecost. The Pentecost is the point of arrival. And on the other side, it is the new beginning. There is one person who marks this itinerary who has always been with Jesus when he was a child in Nazareth, and from there, accompanying him also in the most difficult moments of his life up to the feet of the cross. That person is his mother Mary. And Mary the Mother of Jesus and our mother was also with the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, praying and waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. When they received Him, they went our without fear to proclaim the Gospel to all corners of the earth. Mary has always been with all of you. She is the Mother who never abandons. She has accompanied you until here. And now we ask her to intercede for this new Pentecost of the Church in the Philippines.
So let us not forget these three words which mark three milestones in your history: NAZARETH, the CROSS and PENTECOST.
During this Jubilee Year, Jesus’ words guide us: “Freely you have received, freely give”. These words are an invitation to thank God for the persons who have transmitted you the faith. And I am a witness that you know how to transmit the faith, and you do it well, be it in your own country or abroad. Give thanks for the gift of faith. Thank God for the persons who have shared the faith with you and for the persons to whom you are to transmit the faith, renewing the desire to evangelize, to reach other people, and to bring them hope and the joy of the Gospel.
Dear friends, I remember my visit to your country with a lot of affection. I don’t forget that final meeting with almost 7million people. You are generous. You are bountiful. You know how to celebrate the feast of faith. Don’t lose that even in the midst of difficulties. In those highly participate meetings, you showed us that this gift of faith you have received. You said that you want to continue sharing it and proclaiming it to all. Do not be afraid. You are not alone in this mission. You are accompanied by two great saints of your land: San Pedro Calungsod and San Lorenzo Ruiz. Two saints who are catechists who know how to give freely what they have received freely: life and faith in Jesus.
Keep going! The Pope accompanies you. May Jesus bless you, bless all Filipino people and may the Holy Virgin take care of you. May the Santo Niño be always with you. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you very much.