Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day every year, we gather in this Cathedral to
celebrate the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the two great pillars of the Catholic Church. In this Mass, we also pray for Pope Francis, the successor of Peter; and we pledge our filial obedience, loyalty, and love to him, as we faithfully heed the command of Jesus to feed his sheep.
For the past weeks, the image that we get of Pope Francis is that of a man in white cassock, being moved around in a wheelchair. Although this past three days, he could walk with the help of a cane. While his knee concerns must have been causing him pain, it must even be more frustrating for a man like Pope Francis, walking around, and spontaneously approaching people to be stuck to a wheelchair. Pope Francis must have understood even literally what Jesus told to Peter at their post-resurrection encounter by the Sea of Galilee: “When you were younger you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18). It was precisely when Peter was led to where he did not want to go that he gave glory to God. In the same line, Saint Paul also said, “for when I am weak then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).
We know that in his physical weakness, Pope Francis more powerfully gives witness to Christ, “who strengthens him” (Phil. 4:13); and this is obvious, because even in a wheelchair, the power of his voice never wavers, the smile on his face never fades, and the passion for service never ceases.
Your Excellency Archbishop Brown, please assure our beloved Pope Francis that we are praying for him, especially for his good health, and the strength to continue leading the Church to were Jesus wants us to go. Please assure him also that here in the Philippines, our local Churches are one with him in striving for a Synodal Church. So far, the synodal consultation held in our particular churches have been fruitful and joyful encounters with each other, and with the spirit of the Risen Lord. We rejoice in the grace of having been able to go beyond conveniences and conventions. To reach out to our brothers and sisters. To express boldly our genuine concerns and to listen compassionately to each other. The on-going synodal journey here in the Philippines is truly a Pentecost experience; and we feel hopeful for the renewal of communion, participation, and mission in our Church. We thank the Holy Father for his inspiration, guidance, and support.
I also take this opportunity to thank all of you for coming tonight. Thank you especially to the members of the diplomatic core, the bishops, and our Apostolic Nuncio for presiding over our Eucharist this evening. As we invoke the intercession of Saints Peter and Paul, we also ask the help of the prayers of Saints John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II whose relics are here for veneration.
May the Church, especially the Church in the Philippines, journey together in synodality towards the fullness of life that Jesus, the Head of the Church, desires for us.
Pagpalain kayo ng Panginoon at maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat.
Transcribed by Joel V. Ocampo Photo from Manila Cathedral Facebook Page