POPE FRANCIS urged Catholics to appreciate the little things and do away with grand celebrations, during Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City on Dec. 24.

“Let us stop pining for a grandeur that is not ours to have. Let us put aside our complaints and our gloomy faces, and the greed that never satisfies,” Pope Francis said in his homily.

“God does not rise up in grandeur, but lowers himself into littleness. Littleness is the path that He chose to draw near to us, to touch our hearts, to save us and to bring us back to what really matters,” he added.

The Pope said serving and honoring the poor were ways to embrace Jesus this Christmas season.

“To accept littleness means embracing Jesus in the little ones of today. Loving him, that is, in the least of our brothers and sisters. Serving him in the poor, those most like Jesus who was born in poverty. It is in them that he wants to be honored,” he said.

Fr. Christopher Garinganao, O.P. of the Priory of Saint Thomas Aquinas said Catholics should be grateful for being able to gather this Christmas season.

“Isa sa mga grasyang dapat nating ikagalak ay ang grasya na tayo ay makapag tipon-tipon ngayong Pasko,” Garinganao said in his homily at the Santisimo Rosario Parish.

“Tinanggal ng Panginoon ang lahat ng hadlang, nagpakababa siya, nagpakatao siya upang mas madali natin siyang maunawaan,” he added.

Help ‘Odette’ victims

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) declared Dec. 25 and 26 as national days of prayer for families affected by typhoon “Odette.”

CBCP President Pablo Virgilio David, the bishop of Kalookan, called on Catholics to dedicate the two days to pray for the recovery of storm-hit communities.

David also encouraged dioceses to hold a second collection in all Masses on Christmas Day and the following day for the typhoon victims.

“May this season of giving offer us more opportunities to do consistent acts of alay kapwa (offering oneself),” he said.

David also urged the faithful to show solidarity with typhoon victims by doing away with extravagant celebrations.

“Perhaps instead of spending a lot on lavish Christmas parties and exchanging gifts, we can put together whatever we can and contribute it to relief operations,” he said in a Facebook post last Dec. 20.

Ten dioceses were heavily affected by the typhoon in the Visayas and Mindanao, according to Caritas Philippines. The Archdiocese of Cebu and dioceses of Tagbilaran, Maasin, and Surigao were considered “severely damaged” by the typhoon.

Pope Francis also expressed solidarity with the Philippines over the damage caused by “Odette.”

“I express my closeness to the people of the Philippines affected by a strong typhoon, which has destroyed many homes,” the Pope said.

“May the Santo Niño bring consolation and hope to the families most in need; and may he inspire practical help in all of us! The first genuine help is prayer,” he added.

“Odette” was the 15th typhoon to hit the country this year.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, “Odette” has killed 389 people and caused damage to agriculture and infrastructure amounting to P5.3 billion and P16.7 billion, respectively. M.A.O. Castillo and A.M.C. Cruz


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