MANILA - Pope Francis on Easter Sunday told Filipinos not to be afraid in spreading the word of God as he joined them in celebrating the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines 500 years ago.
The Pope told Filipinos that they are accompanied by "two great saints", San Pedro Calungsod and San Lorenzo Ruiz.
"Dear friends, I remember my visit to your country with a lot of affection. I don’t forget that final meeting with almost seven million people. You are generous. You are bountiful. You know how to celebrate the feast of faith. Don’t lose that even in the midst of difficulties," he said in a video message.
"Keep going! The Pope accompanies you. May Jesus bless you, bless all Filipino people and may the Holy Virgin take care of you. May the Santo Niño be always with you. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you very much."
Pope Francis said the three mysteries of faith - Nazareth, the Cross and Pentecost, were the "most profound" Christian roots of the predominantly Catholic nation.
"Thank you for the profound sense of family, of community, of fraternity, which keeps you united, which keeps you firm in faith, joyful in hope, prompt in charity," he said.
Filipinos also know how to accompany Jesus along the way of the Cross as they face difficulties such as natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Pope.
"But in spite of all the pain and devastation, you have known how to carry the cross and to continue walking. You have suffered much but also you have risen up one time after another. Continue working, reconstructing, helping one another like good Cyrenians," he said.
"Thank you also for giving witness to that fortitude and confidence in God who never abandons us. Thank you for your patience, for your always looking forward in the midst of difficulties and for walking continuously. Thank you."
The Pope also asked Mother Mary to "intercede for this new Pentecost of the Church in the Philippines."
"During this Jubilee Year, Jesus’ words guide us: 'Freely you have received, freely give.' These words are an invitation to thank God for the persons who have transmitted you the faith. And I am a witness that you know how to transmit the faith, and you do it well, be it in your own country or abroad," he said.
"Give thanks for the gift of faith. Thank God for the persons who have shared the faith with you and for the persons to whom you are to transmit the faith, renewing the desire to evangelize, to reach other people, and to bring them hope and the joy of the Gospel."
Pope Francis last month led the Mass celebrating 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
On March 31, the first Easter Sunday mass in Limasawa town in the Diocese of Maasin in Southern, Leyte was commemorated.
The first baptism in Cebu will be commemorated on April 14, and the victory in Mactan on April 27.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: