By Roy Lagarde
April 4, 2021
The Philippines has formally opened the yearlong Jubilee on Easter Sunday with a call from Pope Francis for Filipinos to keep sharing their faith with others even amidst life’s challenges.
In a video message in Spanish, he thanked the faithful “for giving witness to that fortitude and confidence in God who never abandons us”.
The pope recalled his visit to the country in 2015 particularly his Mass in Manila’s Luneta Park with a massive attendance of about six million 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,” Pope Francis said.
“In those highly participated meetings, you showed us that this gift of faith you have received… You say that you want to continue sharing it, and proclaiming it to all,” he said.
The leader of the world”s billion Catholics said the Jubilee Year is an invitation to thank God for the “gift of 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,” he said.
3 mysteries of faith
In his 7-minute message, he also shared three “mysteries of our faith”, which according to him, characterize the Christian roots of Filipinos: “Nazareth, the Cross, and Pentecost”.
Contemplating on Nazareth, he said that Sto. Niño, which is the symbol of the arrival of Christianity in the archipelago, “brings us back to the hidden life of the Holy Family in Nazareth”.
By opening their doors to the child Jesus, he said that Filipinos are able to transmit to their children the faith which they have received from their parents.
“Thank you for the profound sense of family, of community, of fraternity, which keeps you united, which keeps you firm in faith, joyful in hope, prompt in charity,” the pope said.
“All of you, pilgrim people of God in the Philippines, pastors and faithful, are also people who know how to accompany Jesus, the Nazarene, along the way of the Cross,” he said.
Pope Francis then reflected on the many difficult moments that Filipinos suffered from earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions and the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.
But in spite of “all the pain and devastation,” he said that Filipinos 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,” he said, as he asked Filipinos “to continue working, reconstructing and helping one another”.
Pentecost, on the other hand, “is the point of arrival and on the other side, it is the new beginning”.
All of Mary’s greatness as a Christian, the pope said, can be traced to the fact that the Holy Spirit came upon her, and she lived in the presence of God.
“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,” he added.
‘Don’t be afraid, you’re not alone’
The 84-year-old pontiff also invited Catholics to draw inspiration from the country’s saints, San Pedro Calungsod and San Lorenzo Ruiz, as they continue their mission.
He said that the two saints, who are catechists, knew how to give freely what they have received freely: “life and faith in Jesus”.
“Do not be afraid. You are not alone in this mission. You are accompanied by two great saints of your land,” the pope said. “Keep going! The Pope accompanies you.”
Sunday’s activities include the opening of the “Jubilee Doors” in all the cathedrals and opening of the quincentennial celebration in parishes across the country.
The celebration will be concluded with the holding of the 2nd National Mission Congress in Cebu City in April 2022.