TACLOBAN - "I would like to tell you something close to my heart."
With these words, Pope Francis delivered his message of hope and love to thousands of typhoon victims in Tacloban who lost their homes, loved ones and livelihoods to Typhoon Yolanda, one of the deadliest storms in Philippine history.
Light rains, accompanied by strong winds, brought about by Tropical Storm Amang did not dampen the spirit of the Pope, who is now on the third day of his visit to the Philippines, to hold Mass at the makeshift stage at the Tacloban Airport.
In his homily, the Pope said he decided to come to the Philippines after seeing the devastation brought by the typhoon in November 2013.
"When I saw from Rome the catastrophe, I felt that I had to be here," said the Pope. "And on those very days, I decided to come here. I am here to be with you. A little bit late, but I'm here."
Here are some of his most inspiring messages in his homily:
"We have a high priest who is capable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who is similarly being tested in every way, yet without sin."
"Jesus is like us. Jesus lived like us. Jesus is the same as us in every respect except sin because he was not a sinner. But to be more like us, he assumed our condition and our sin."
"Jesus always goes before us and when we pass an experience across, he passed there before us. And if today we find ourselves 14 months afterwards here, 14 months after the typhoon Yolanda hit, it is because we have a security of knowing that we’re not going to weaken in our faith because Jesus has been there before us."
"I’d like to tell you something close to my heart: When I saw from Rome the catastrophe, I felt that I had to be here. And on those very days, I decided to come here. I'm here to be with you. A little bit late, I have to say, but I'm here."
"I come to tell you that Jesus is Lord and he never lets us down. Father, you might say to me: I was let down because I've lost so many things, my house, my livelihood, I have illness. It’s true, if you would say that, and I respect those sentiments. But Jesus there, nailed to the cross, and from there he does not let us down."
"He was consecrated as Lord on that throne and there he experienced all calamities that we experienced. Jesus is Lord, and the Lord from the cross, is there for you. Therefore, he is capable of understanding us."
"We have a Lord who is capable of crying with us, capable of walking with us in the most difficult moments of life."
"So many of you have lost everything. I don't know what to say to you, but the Lord does know what to say to you. Some of you lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silence, and I walk with you all with my silent heart."
"Many of you have asked the Lord: 'Why, Lord?' And to each of you, to your heart, Christ responds from his heart upon the cross. I have no more words to tell you. Let us look to Christ. He is the Lord. He understands us because he underwent all the trials that we, that you, have experienced."
"In moments when we have so much pain, when you no longer understand anything, all we can do is grab hold of her hand firmly and say 'Mom.' As a child does to her mother when he or she feels fear. It is perhaps the only word that we can say in such difficult times: 'Mother, Mom.'"
"Let us look to the Christ on the cross. He understands us because he endured everything. Let us look to our mother and like that little child, let us grab hold of her mantle and with a true heart say: 'Mother.' In silence, let us say it as a prayer; say to the mother what you feel in your hearts."
"Let us know that we have our Mother Mary and our senior brother, our great brother, Jesus. We are not alone. We also have many brothers who in this moment of catastrophe came to help you and we, too, because of this, we feel more brothers and sisters because we helped each other."
"This is what comes from my heart and forgive me if I have no other words to express this but please know Jesus never lets you down. Please know that the love and tenderness of Mother Mary never lets you down. We're holding on to her mantle. And with the power that comes from Jesus' love on the cross, let us move forward, always forward, and work together as brothers and sisters in the Lord forward."