January 29, 2003
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE FAMILY: FOURTH WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES
HOMILY OF CARDINAL ALFONSO LÓPEZ TRUJILLO
Sunday, 26 January 2003
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
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
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'
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