Palma calls for unity among Filipinos

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol January 15,2017 - 11:18 AM
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma presides over the Pontifical Mass in celebration of the feast of the Holy Child at the jampacked Basilica del Sto. Niño's Pilgrim Center. (CDN PHOTO/ADOR VINCENT S. MAYOL)

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma presides over the Pontifical Mass in celebration of the feast of the Holy Child at the jampacked Basilica del Sto. Niño’s Pilgrim Center. (CDN PHOTO/ADOR VINCENT S. MAYOL)

CEBU CITY–Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma called for unity in response to the problems that hound the country.

Speaking before thousands of people who attended the 6 a.m. pontifical Mass in celebration of the feast of the Holy Child Jesus at the Basilica del Sto. Niño’s Pilgrim Center on Sunday, the 66-year-old prelate said collaboration was the key to development.

“Let us stop competing against each other but rather appreciate each one as God’s children,” he said in his Homily.

“Be it problem on traffic, water, or garbage, we should be united and put our service for the good of society and for the glory of God,” he added.

The Sto. Niño, he said, was the source of communion and holds all creation together.

“Let us collaborate with each other so as to find progress and peace,” Palma said.

Concelebrating with him were Bishops Christian Noel and Antonio Palang; Fr. Andres Rivera, Jr., the prior provincial of the Province of Santo Niño de Cebu-Philippines; Fr. Pacifico Nohara Jr., the rector of the basilica; and around 60 religious and diocesan priests.

The basilica’s courtyard was packed. Several devotees spilled over to the streets near the church.

They watched the Eucharistic celebration through large LED screens and television monitors installed around the basilica.

During the offertory, devotees waved their hands in the air in unison as they sang “Bato-Balani sa Gugma (Magnet of Love),” an ancient Cebuano hymn in honor of the Sto. Niño.

Despite repeated appeals, several devotees still brought and released balloons with rolled pieces of paper containing prayer petitions.

The Augustinian fathers of the basilica earlier appealed to devotees to stop using balloons which could end up in the sea and kill fishes that digested them.

The theme for this year’s feast is “Santo Niño: Source of Communion, Protector of Creation” which is patterned after the pastoral thrust of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on the Year of the Parish, and Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si on the care of the environment.

Laudato Si means “Praise be to you” which is the first line of a canticle by St. Francis that praises God with all of his creation.

Palma reminded people to take care of the environment, not only for themselves, but for future generations.

“Because God loves us, He entrusted the earth and its resources to us. But in many ways, we took for granted what God has given us. If we love each other, we should care for creation because that is our common home,” he said.

Palma urged the faithful to plant trees and clean waterways as ways to save the environment.

“Taking care of the environment is a divine act; a vivid way to show that we are true devotees of the Sto. Niño,” he said.

In the Philippines, not only in Cebu, the third Sunday of January is always celebrated as the Feast of the Sto. Niño—a special privilege given to the country by the Holy See due to the Filipinos’ special and unique devotion to the Christ Child.

At the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, several people lined up to kiss and venerate the original image of the Sto. Niño de Cebu housed inside a bullet-proof glass case inside the centuries-old church.

The image was given as baptismal gift by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Cebu’s Queen Juana in 1521.

The Cebu Archdiocese and the Catholic Church in the Philippines are preparing for the fifth centennary of the arrival of Christianity and the image of the Sto. Niño which will be celebrated in 2021.

“People come to the basilica to pray for specific intentions. But it is also nice to come back to thank the Sto. Niño for the blessings we received,” Palma said.

Nine other Masses were held at the basilica’s Pilgrim Center yesterday to celebrate the feast of the Sto. Niño.

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TAGS: #Sinulog2017, Cebu City, development, Filipinos, Jose T. Palma, Mass, Palma, peace, Sinulog, traffic, unity

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