MANILA Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle asked devotees of the Black Nazarene to be vigilant against greed and to “live without being greedy for power.”
At the same time, Tagle told the faithful, who attended a midnight Mass at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on Tuesday ushering in the Feast of the Black Nazarene, to remember the victims of recent disasters.
“Let us carry our countrymen to Jesus,” said Tagle who was also joined by Monsignor Hernando Coronel and Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, Papal Nuncio to the Philippines.
Also present were Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, together with his son and former senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald de la Rosa.
Millions of devotees are expected to join the Traslacion or the procession after the mass that will bring the image of the Black Nazarene around Manila before returning it to its home at the Minor Basilica in Quiapo.
The Feast of the Black Nazarene is considered one of the biggest events of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, pastor to 80 percent of the population.
Believed to be miraculous, barefooted devotees touch, kiss, or use a handkerchief or towel to wipe the image in the hope that their prayers would be answered.
In his homily, Tagle reminded the faithful, however, not to forget our countrymen who are victims of recent typhoons and wars,” referring to the victims of the siege of Marawi City in Mindanao and of the three tropical storms in the last quarter of 2017 that ravaged most of the provinces in the southern Philippines, killing hundreds and displacing thousands of people.
The archbishop also warned Filipinos against greed for power.
“We were born without power, and when we die, we will have no power as well. Live without being greedy for power, and you will be a real person,” said Tagle, amid the ongoing debate on the shift to Federalism, which may extend the terms of incumbent officials who will pave the way for the transition and the prevalence of corruption in government.
The Manila Police District (MPD) estimated the crowd present during the Mass at Quirino Grandstand at 120,00.
The image of the Black Nazarene is brought out thrice a year: During its Feast every January 9, on Good Friday, symbolizing the passion of Christ; and on New Year’s Eve, the start of a nine-day novena to the Nazarene.
Augustinian Recollect friars from Mexico brought the image of the Nazarene to the Philippines on May 31, 1606.
The image was initially placed at the Augustian Recollect Church in what is now a part of the Rizal Park in Luneta.
Two years later, the Nazarene was brought to another Recollect Church dedicated to San Nicolas de Tolentino.
In 1650, Pope Innocent 10 recognized Filipinos’ devotion to the Black Nazarene.
On January 9, 1787, the image was moved to its current location at St. John the Baptist Church, which is officially called the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, in Quiapo. ARIC JOHN SY CUA