Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the name of the Archdiocese of Manila, I extend to all of you, especially to your families my prayerful wishes of a Blessed Christmas. For the Church in the Philippines, November 2104 up to November 2015 has been designated as the Year of the Poor. So Christmas 2014 falls within this most important event centered on the poor of the land and of the world.
Jesus, though truly Son of God, emptied himself of his glory and prerogatives and became human, one of us. This is the mystery of Christmas: God becomes poor and lowly so that we could become rich in God’s life. By becoming human, Jesus has identified himself with every human being, especially the poor whose only strength is God. Christmas is never truly Christmas if we do not accept and imitate Jesus’ self-emptying poverty. Christmas is a season to shed off illusions of grandeur, pretensions to self-importance, and the wickedness of self-interest.
Christmas is never truly Christmas if we do not practice Jesus’ solidarity with the poor, the weak, and the neglected. Christmas is a season to see our own poverty, to see a companion in every person who suffers and to see Jesus in a needy brother or sister. Christmas frees the poor from inhumanity and degradation. Christmas proclaims the good news that the poor are loved by God, that they possess the dignity that has its source in God, that they could take their rightful place in shaping society as protagonists.
May Christmas 2014 give us greater zeal to combat trafficking in human persons, new forms of slavery, neglect and abuse of children and violence against the helpless!
As we also prepare to welcome Pope Francis with his message of mercy and compassion, we pray that the celebration of Jesus’ birth bring much love and peace, especially to the poor of the land.
+ Luis Antonio
G. Cardinal Tagle
Archbishop of Manila