Homily given in Manila
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This Sunday the community of believers, in this beautiful and Christian nation, rightly proud of the Gospel that has conformed their souls, exalt in songs of jubilation with the Prophet Isaiah. The whole of history is a journey from darkness to light of salvation, which is seen in the face of the child-God, of the "Santo Niño" whose feast we celebrate. When the fullness of time came, like a fruit that ripens under the tender gaze of God, born from woman, in the heart of a family, a child has been born for us, a child has been given to us! The Word Incarnate in the womb of Mary, who assumes our human condition in poverty, as a slave up to the torment of the cross. He did not renounce being born in the Holy Family, in the arms of Mary, the place from which the Savior of the World and the Prince of Peace reigns.
From the Incarnation and birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the whole of history was transformed and humanity received the total answer to all its questions and aspirations. In the Child-God, Icon of the Father, all has been given to us. In him is revealed to us the totality of the mystery and the key to our own greatness and our sublime dignity as image of God. There is no greater nobility, no higher dignity, than that of being the image of God in Christ, born as children of God in the waters of Baptism. As the manger of Bethlehem was filled with light, with alleluias, with the songs of the shepherds, a canticle of joy and hope for the gift and tenderness of God in human life should rise. Each human person from the very beginning of conception has the right to be welcomed, loved, and educated with dedication and tenderness in a family.
This is an incomparable human treasure, my beloved families. God loves you all personally. All persons formed by the loving arms of God receive life from his breath of life. Faith allows us to go deeper than reason itself to admire and wonder at this mystery. Life is a sacred gift from God! No one can bring death to whom God himself loves and calls to life. All families, like the child-God in Nazareth, have their center, their joy and hope, in the child who, conceived, is born and grows in wisdom, stature and favor before God and man (Lk 2,52).
The Holy Father, in his historic Encyclical, gives the entirety of this fundamental truth the name Evangelium vitae. This good news arises in the Christian family, which is wonderful news, a gospel, patterned in love, in reciprocal self-giving of the spouses. Love and educate your children, so that they grow as image and children of God. Your children merit your total self-giving, your example, your care, and your sacrifices. They are the measure of your responsibility. In them you renew your life. Do not convert mothers' wombs, which are fountains of life, into tombs. Laws all over the world should respect the gift of life and not conspire at death, in the cruelty and shame of procured abortion. One cannot hate and eliminate those whom God loves, under any circumstances.
Dear families, do you believe that children are precious gifts? Defend them as Mary and Joseph did, to protect the Santo Niño from the massacre of the innocent. Reject with all your might those who treat children as things, as objects; reject those who execute children through capital punishment. Reject those who see in children an intruder, a burden, a threat to development, and who even think, as the Holy Father denounces, that the wrongdoing, the crime, of abortion is a right. Can it ever be a right to kill the fruit of the womb?
Consecrate your children to the Holy Family. Whoever destroys innocent life in the family, which is and should be the sanctuary of life, destroys the family and ruins his or her own life through an irresponsible violence!
Protect your children and surround them with tenderness. Poverty, against which we have to fight courageously in the midst of widespread injustice in this world, becomes a bitter tragedy when children are abandoned, or become victims and made to pay for the irresponsibility of parents who have promised to love one another until death.
There is no better investment for the government, for legislators, than to favor the families, strengthen their unity, support them, not to obstruct the mission and rights of spouses. Parliaments that approve unjust and harmful laws violate the rights of families, their right to respect life, and their right to a wholesome education for their children. It is a grave irresponsibility against human integrity and existence for politicians and legislators to give in to the culture of death, and for doctors to become accomplices in assaults against the human person, instead of truly working against diseases and to alleviate pain! Seduced by science and technology, many presume that they are arbiters of life, in all kinds of dangerous manipulation that can even become nightmares to humanity. How lucky and happy are those nations that pass laws in favor of family and life, and thus exalt the dignity and nobility of the political vocation!
Christianity is not a plan created by the will and by the wisdom of human intelligence. The apostles, the Christian martyrs, would not have been able to give their lives up for a myth, for a fantasy, for a lie, for idols who cannot speak or dialogue or breathe, earthen or golden idols that were objects of scorn of the prophets.
Christianity can only be explained by the outpouring of God's love in the history of one who placed his pilgrim's tent in the midst of humanity. All this brings us to a closeness that leads to great jubilation and freedom, in the mystery of God's love. Our Christian faith, which should respect and nourish your life and that of your children, is born from a unique, unrepeatable and original experience. Thus St John against the agnostics, who did not accept the folly of the cross and its scandal, being unable to kneel before a poor and defenseless child in a manger. Only faith allows us to discover the Word made flesh, in the weakness of a child, born in a stable, who grew up in an insignificant town, earned to buy his bread, like Joseph, with his own hands, and gave up his life in the terrible agony of the cross!
The Church and the families are nourished by this truth, and joyfully proclaim this Gospel: "We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life" (I Jn 1,1). This is the experience that the Mother of God communicates - she whom he created and who "treasured all these things in her heart" (Lk 2,51). It is also the experience lived and discovered in Christian homes: that in Jesus, and in children who grow as image of God in love, they can truly say, "This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all" (1 Jn 1,5).
Be evangelizers of this great mystery, proclaiming to the world the mercies of God, the permanent miracle of his love in your marriage, in your community of life and love, in the family.
How great are you, beloved families of the world! How great is your vocation! See how these days of our World Meeting have become a great feast of faith, of joy, with the songs and happiness of your children.
Santo Niño, redeemer of mankind, bless, strengthen, redeem and purify the love of the families.
Holy Family of Nazareth, protect, fill with joy and evangelizing enthusiasm the homes of the world.
St Joseph, custodian of the Redeemer, Redemptoris custos, carry children on your shoulders, as you did with Jesus, like in this icon of the Holy Family. They are God's gifts.
Mother of God, Queen of the Family, ora pro nobis. Bless all children of the world.
Thanks to Cardinal Sin, to the Apostolic Nuncio, to the Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops.
Your generosity as Pastor, beloved Cardinal Sin, with the Bishops' Conference, with many and untiring collaborators, have made possible this meeting convoked by John Paul II, which was again enriched by the Word of the Lord given to us in abundance last night.
Beloved English-speaking families, thank you very much! We will meet in Valencia.
Our special tribute also to the Papal Nuncio, His Excellency Antonio Franco, who with his total availability and patience has helped us much. Thank you very much, my brother Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops, for your participation. Dear families, return to your countries, to your dioceses, full of joy and hope.
Thanks to Cardinal Sin, Archbishop Quevedo, President of the Bishops' Conference.
Finally, beloved Cardinal Sin, Archbishop Quevedo, President of the Bishops' Conference, Bishops of the Philippines, beloved families of this great country: in the name of all families, we would like to say, thank you very much, from the bottom of our hearts! We thank the Lord for this meeting, for our welcome.
In the name of the Holy Father, thank you without end. You will always be in my heart!