Christmas in the Philippines this year 2014 carries an added reason for excitement. In a few weeks Pope Francis will be visiting our country. Although we believe in faith that God is always with us, we also know in our hearts that the coming of the Pope to the Philippines is a renewed affirmation of the love of God for us. When Pope Francis comes, he brings to us Jesus Himself, the Word made flesh, Emmanuel, God-with-us.

The Pope himself has expressed repeatedly that the focus of his visit must be Jesus Christ. He comes to us to pay homage to Christ who is already in our country even before the start of the papal visit. The papal visit is Jesus in the Pope visiting Jesus in the Filipino. What a wonderful moment of grace!

Christ is in all of us. Christ is in our poverty. Christ is in our prosperity. Christ is in our hunger. Christ is in our plenty. Christ is in our storms and calamities. Christ is in our progress and tranquility. Christ is in our dark nights. Christ is in our sunny days. Christ is always with us.

Indeed that is the message of Christmas. God is not far beyond our reach. God has become small, small like a baby, to make it easier for us to reach him; to carry him; to hug him and caress him; to embrace him and kiss him.

As we thank God who has chosen to be so near, in fact to dwell right in our hearts, let us also beg the Lord to open our eyes and hearts that we may always see the wonder of His tender love everyday of the coming year in everything that happens, in every person we meet, in every moment of our lives.

Maligayang Pasko po sa lahat!

From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, December 25, 2014

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
CBCP President