CHRISTIANITY is a good illness that goes from one generation to another and it comes from the gift Filipinos received 500 years ago and bear even today, said Pope Francis in a mass he officiated to celebrate the quincentenary of Christianity in the country.
Pope Francis officiated the mass at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter in the Vatican City at 10 a.m. Sunday, March 14, 2021 (5 p.m. Philippine time).
The mass was celebrated with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, former Manila archbishop and now the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and attended by the Filipino community in Rome, Italy.
Churches in the Philippines also held masses at 5 p.m.
The mass at the Vatican started with a Sinulog dance offered by Filipino faithful wearing Filipiniana and Barong Tagalog while carrying the image of the Sto. Niño.
The pope, in his homily, said Filipinos have received the joy of the gospel and the good news of God, which is evident in every faithful. He said he sees it in the eyes, on the faces, in the songs and in the prayers of every Filipino faithful.
The pope recalled many beautiful experiences with Filipino families in Rome and in other parts of the world, showing the Filipino faithful’s discreet and hardworking presence that has become a testimony of faith.
In a text message from Msgr. Joseph Tan, Archdiocese of Cebu spokesman, he said the pope’s homily acknowledged the special missionary role that Filipino migrant workers play in spreading the Christian faith in their places of work and wherever they find themselves in the globe today.
“The presence of the Filipino migrant workers is non-proselytizing and non-threatening because he serves and oftentimes in the most humbling tasks and his presence infects the world with his faith,” said Tan.
Migrant workers resemble Christ, who came to the world to serve and not to be served, Tan said. Christ did not condemn, but instead offered his life as ransom. Filipino workers equally bear the loneliness and hardship for the sake of his love for his family, Tan said.
Pope Francis asked the church in his homily to care for those who are hurting and living on the fringes of life.
He said the church has the same mission with God, who loves the faithful and gives himself to the faithful without judgment and without condemnation.
“How beautiful and attractive are a church that loves the world without judging and a church that gives herself to the world to our dear brothers and sisters. I hope that it will be like this in the Philippines and in every part of the Earth,” said Pope Francis.
In his final message, the pope gave recognition to the great contribution of the Christian faith in shaping Filipino culture and the Filipino nation.
He said the gift of faith must not be kept for itself but to be shared, as it is being shared by millions of Catholic Filipino migrants.
“We have left our families not to abandon them but to care for them and their future. To support them, we endure the sorrow of separation,” the pope said.
The official celebration of the quincentenary of Christianity in the Philippines will start on April 4, 2021 and will last until April 22 next year. (KFD)