Francis celebrated Simbang Gabi (Night Mass) with Rome’s Filipino community. “Salvation is offered to all,” he said, “but the Lord shows a special tenderness for the most vulnerable, the most fragile, the poorest of his people.” And “since the inhabitants of the existential peripheries still continue to be numerous, we must ask the Lord to renew the miracle of Christmas every year, offering ourselves as instruments of his merciful love for the last.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis entrusted Rome’s Filipino Catholic community with a special mission, that of “leaven” in the parish communities to which they now belong. The pontiff spoke to this effect on the first day of Simbang Gabi (Night Mass), a traditional Filipino novena in preparation for Christmas, celebrated this afternoon at St Peter's Basilica.
“Salvation,” said Francis commenting today's readings, “is offered to all, but the Lord shows a special tenderness for the most vulnerable, the most fragile, the poorest of his people. From the words of the Responsorial Psalm we learn that there are other vulnerable people who deserve a look of special love from God, namely the oppressed, the hungry, inmates, foreigners, orphans and widows (Psalm 145:7-9). They are the inhabitants of the existential peripheries of yesterday and today.”
“This year too we are preparing to celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation, of the Immanuel, ‘God with us’, who works wonders in favour of his people, especially the littlest and the most fragile. These wonders are the ‘signs’ of the presence of his Kingdom. And since the inhabitants of the existential peripheries still continue to be numerous, we must ask the Lord to renew the miracle of Christmas every year, offering ourselves as instruments of his merciful love for the last.”
The Pope went on to say that "in the Philippines, for centuries, a novena called Simbang Gabi was held in preparation of Holy Christmas. For nine days, Filipino believers gather at dawn in their parishes for a special Eucharistic celebration. In recent decades, thanks to Filipino migrants, this devotional practise has crossed national borders coming to many other countries. Simbang Gabi has also been celebrated in the Diocese of Rome for years, and today we celebrate it together here in St Peter's Basilica.”
“We are called to be the leaven in a society that often fails to taste the beauty of God and to experience the grace of his presence. And you, dear brothers and sisters, who have left your land in search of a better future, you have a special mission. Your faith is a ‘leaven’ in the parish communities to which you belong today. I encourage you to multiply the opportunities of meeting [others] to share your cultural and spiritual wealth, whilst at the same time allowing yourself to be enriched by the experiences of others. We are all invited to build together that communion in diversity that constitutes a distinctive trait of the Kingdom of God, inaugurated by Jesus Christ, Son of God made man.”