What does March want for our lives

HOLY MASS FOR THE 500TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARRIVAL OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE PHILIPPINES

Sermon by Pope Francis

St. Peter's Basilica
Sunday March 14th 2021

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"For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son" (Joh 3.16). This is the heart of the gospel, the reason for our joy. In fact, the content of the Gospel is not an idea or a teaching: it is Jesus himself, the Son whom the Father gave us so that we might have life. Jesus is the reason for our joy, and not a beautiful theory about how to be happy, but the experience of being accompanied and loved on the path of life. "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son." Let us dwell for a moment on these two aspects: "He loved so much" and "He gave".

First: God has loved so much. These words that Jesus addressed to Nicodemus - an elderly Jew who wanted to meet the Master - help us see the true face of God. He has always looked at us with love, and out of love he came into our midst in his incarnate Son. In him he has come to seek us in the places where we have lost our way; in him he came to lift us up again after our falls; in him he wept our tears and healed our wounds; in him he has forever blessed our lives. Whoever believes in him - so it says in the Gospel - will not be lost (ibid.). In Jesus God spoke the last word about our life: You are not lost, you are loved. Loved forever.

If hearing the gospel and practicing our faith do not widen our hearts to allow us to grasp the greatness of this love, and we may slip into a too serious, sad, closed religiosity, then that is a sign that we are a pause little, have to listen once more to the proclamation of the good news: God loves you so much that he gives you his whole life. He is not a God who looks down on us indifferently from heaven, but is a Father, a Father who loves and participates in our history. He is not a God who rejoices in the death of the sinner, but a Father who cares that no one is lost. He is not a God who condemns, but a Father who saves us with the blessing embrace of his love.

Let us come to the second word: God has his Son "Surrendered". Precisely because he loves us so much, God gives himself up, offers us his life. He who loves always goes out of himself. Do not forget that: if you love, you always go out of yourself. Love always gives itself away, it surrenders itself, it gives itself away. The strength of love is that it shatters the shell of egoism, breaks through the barriers of overly calculated human security, tears down walls and overcomes fears in order to give oneself a gift. That is the dynamic of love: becoming a gift, giving yourself. Those who love prefer to take a risk in devotion rather than wither away by remaining self-contained.

That is why God comes out of himself: because he "loved so much". His love is so great that he can't help but give himself to us. When the people were attacked by poisonous snakes on their way through the desert, God had Moses made a serpent out of copper. But in Jesus exalted on the cross, he himself came to heal us from the poison that brings death. He made himself sin to redeem us from sin. God does not love us in words: he gives us his Son so that whoever looks to him and believes in him may be saved (cf. Joh 3.14-15). The more one loves, the more one becomes able to give. That is also the key to understanding our life. It's nice to meet people who love one another and share their lives with one another. The same can be said of them as of God: they love one another so much that they give their lives. What matters is not just how much we produce or earn; what counts is above all the love we know how to give. And that is the source of joy! God loved the world so much that he gave up his Son. Hence the invitation of the Church this Sunday: “Rejoice […], be happy, everyone who was sad. Rejoice and drink your fill at the source of divine consolation "(Opening verse; see. Isa 66.10-11). I think back to what we saw in Iraq a week ago: a tortured people who cheered for joy - thanks to God and his mercy.

Sometimes we look for joy where there is none: we look for it in illusions that burst; in high-handed dreams of one's own greatness; in the deceptive security of material things, in the cult of our image and in many other things ... Yet the experience of life teaches us that true joy consists in feeling loved for free; to have the feeling that someone is by our side who shares our dreams and who - if we are shipwrecked - comes to our aid and takes us to a safe haven.

Dear brothers and sisters, 500 years have passed since the Christian preaching first reached the Philippines. You have received the joy of the gospel: that God loved us so much that he gave his Son for us. And this joy can be seen in your people; they can be seen in your eyes, in your faces, in your songs and prayers. The joy with which you bring your faith to other countries. How many times have I said that Filipino women here in Rome are "smugglers" of the faith!

Because wherever they go to work, there they work, but they also sow faith. This is - allow me to say - a hereditary [genetic] disease, but a blessed disease! Keep it! Bring the faith, that proclamation that you received 500 years ago and that you are bringing now. I want to thank you for the joy you bring to the whole world and to the Christian communities. I am thinking, as I have said, of so many wonderful experiences in Roman families - and this applies all over the world - where your discreet and hard-working presence has also become a testimony of faith. In the style of Mary and Joseph: God loves to bring the joy of faith through humble and hidden, courageous and persistent service.

On this anniversary, which is so important to the holy people of God in the Philippines, I would also like to urge you not to let up in your evangelizing work, which is not proselytism. It is something different. The Christian proclamation that you have received must always be carried on. The gospel of God's nearness wants to find expression in love for our brothers and sisters. God's desire that no one be lost calls on the Church to care for those who are wounded and marginalized. If God loves so much that he gives himself to us, then the Church also has this mandate: She was not sent to judge, but to receive; not to impose, but to sow; the Church is called not to condemn but to bring Christ who is salvation.

I know your church's pastoral plan: missionary commitment that involves and reaches everyone. Never be discouraged from walking this path. Do not be afraid to preach the gospel, serve, love! And with your joy you will cause the Church to also say: "She loved the world so much!" A church that loves the world without judging it, that gives itself for the world, is beautiful and attractive . Dear brothers and sisters, I wish it could be so: in the Philippines and all over the world.