MANILA, Jan. 9, 2017— In a midnight Mass held few hours before the annual procession of the Black Nazarene, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila focused on one theme: unselfish love.
In his homily at the Quirino Grandstand, Cardinal Tagle stressed that in order to love as Jesus did, one must turn away from selfishness and focus on serving others.
He explained in Filipino how Jesus showed these two characteristics of love during his baptism — “the love that says you are no different from me,” and “the love that, even if it does not raise its voice, does good for others.”
“That is the love that will promote unity in our families, the parish, in our barangay, in our country, and in the whole world,” added the prelate.
According to him, these are the keys to love that the country needs for the sake of unity. He also said division among people is often the effect of prejudice.
“Division is often the fruit of judgment. And if we are always like this, we never attain unity because there is no ability to say that we are no different from each other,” he stressed in Filipino.
Jesus’ baptism, he added, showed that love is concrete because God identified Himself with sinners and showed His love by becoming a human person.
“This is the love that is ready to embrace even the weak and the sinful instead of condemning them, trampling upon them, and distancing ourselves from them,” explained Tagle.
“Love is also patient, not rejoicing in the misfortune of one’s fellowman, in unity [with others], silent, and hidden. What’s important is the good of the other.”
Now on its 411th year, this unique devotion to the Black Nazarene is expected to be as gripping as in the past with authorities expecting 15 to 18 million devotees who will attempt to come close to and touch the miraculous image during the traditional procession.
Officials of St. John the Baptist Church, the minor basilica that has housed the Black Nazarene since 1787, said this year’s celebration would be traditional but with more coordination with authorities amid terror threats.
It is widely believed that the life-size image of the “black” Jesus Christ carrying a cross, is miraculous. Devotees believe being able to touch the image or have their handkerchiefs or towels touch it will bring blessings. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)