The pope said: “Precisely because he loves us so much, God gives himself; he offers us his life. Those who love always come out of themselves. ... Love always offers itself, gives itself, expends itself."
“That is the power of love: it shatters the shell of our selfishness, breaks out of our carefully constructed security zones, tears down walls and overcomes fears, so as to give freely of itself. ... That is how lovers are: they prefer to risk self-giving over … self preservation. And that is why God comes ... to us: because he ‘so loved’ us. His love is so great that he cannot fail to give himself to us.”
In most dioceses in the Philippines, the anniversary year will be inaugurated on Easter Sunday, April 4, after nine years of preparation. The dioceses have designated certain churches as special pilgrim churches for the year.
“It is not only what we can make or earn that matters; in the end, it is the love we are able to give,” the pope said.
“Sometimes we look for joy where it is not to be found: in illusions that vanish, in dreams of glory, in the apparent security of material possessions, in the cult of our image,” he said. “But life teaches us that true joy comes from realizing that we are loved gratuitously, knowing that we are not alone, having someone who shares our dreams and who, when we experience shipwreck, is there to help us and lead us to a safe harbor.”
The Mass was attended by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the former archbishop of Manila.
Before the final blessing, Cardinal Tagle addressed a greeting to Pope Francis, and the pope was given two gifts by the people.
“We bring you the filial love of Filipinos in the 7,641 islands of our country. There are more than ten million Filipino migrants living in almost one hundred countries in the world. They are united with us this morning,” Tagle said.
The cardinal from the Philippines teared up as he spoke to the pope and the people.
“From 1521 to 2021, we see gift upon gift. We thank God for the bearers of the gift these 500 years: the pioneering missionaries, the religious congregations, the clergy, the grandmothers and grandfathers, the mothers and fathers, the teachers, the catechists, the parishes, the schools, the hospitals, the orphanages, the farmers, the laborers, the artists, and the poor whose wealth is Jesus," he said.