Pope Francis on Sunday appealed to Filipinos to protect “the unity and beauty of our human family,” reminding the faithful that each child is a gift that should be cherished.
In his homily at the historic Mass at Luneta (Rizal Park in Manila), the pontiff told a crowd of around six million people to hold on to their identity “as God’s adopted children.”
“We need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected. And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets,” Francis said.
His message carried a more poignant meaning because Sunday was the feast day of the Santo Nino or Child Jesus.
The Pope said the Filipinos’ devotion to the Santo Nino should prompt them to spread the word of Christ.
“Just like the Child Jesus needed to be protected by his earthly father, Saint Joseph, from King Herod, so do children, and families, need to be protected,” the Holy Father added.
“For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world. That is why the message of the Santo Niño is so important. He speaks powerfully to all of us. He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family,” he said.
He, however, noted that the family is threatened by corruption and ignorance.
“Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture,” the Pope said.
These threats include “social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption.”
Pope Francis observed that when faced with “troubles, difficulties and wrongs,” the faithful may be “tempted to give up.”
“It seems that the promises of the Gospel do not apply; they are unreal. But the Bible tells us that the great threat to God’s plan for us is, and always has been, the lie. The devil is the father of lies. Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being ‘modern,’ ‘like everyone else.’ He distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes. And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our own money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves,” he said.
But according to the Pope, Filipinos should always remember that they are “children of God.”
“The Apostle tells us that because God chose us, we have been richly blessed. God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. These words have a special resonance in the Philippines for it is the foremost Catholic country in Asia; this is itself a special gift of God, a blessing. But it is also a vocation. Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia,” he said.
Pope Francis commended Filipinos for showing the world their unshakeable faith and compassion in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
“We saw a beautiful expression of this when Filipinos rallied around our brothers and sisters affected by the typhoon,” he said.