In what could be his last Christmas message as prelate of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle noted how some people find pleasure in destroying other people’s lives.
Cardinal Tagle will soon be leaving the country to assume his post as Prefect of the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples in the Vatican.
“We are saddened and shocked to see how some people find pleasure and ‘success’ in having shattered other people’s lives,” he said.
“We are even more disturbed to see young people already bent on harming themselves and ending their lives,” added the cardinal.
“We are bothered because Christmas is about God’s will to save, not to ruin,” he said.
“The mystery of Christmas is contrary to the drive, the desire and the impulse to destroy people, lives, families, societies and creation,” said Cardinal Tagle.
The reported rise in the incidents of mental illness and suicide among young people in the country has caught Philippine media attention this year.
In the province of Iloilo in the central Philippines, a total of 179 suicide cases involving youth with ages between nine to 21, were recorded from 2016 to June 2019.
“Suicide rates went up alarmingly in 2018 up to June 2019 with about 100 recorded suicides across all ages,” said provincial board member Matt Palabrica in a report in September.
The killings of suspected drug users and peddlers have also worried human rights and church groups who claimed that the death toll could have already reached 30,000 in the past three years.
“Let us reclaim Christmas,” said Cardinal Tagle as he called on Filipinos to join Jesus in fulfilling God’s plan of love, mercy, and compassion that saves.
In a video Christmas message, the cardinal told Filipinos to “let Jesus be our gift.”
“If you have nothing to give, an object to give, you still have Jesus and yourself,” he said.
“Embody the humility, the compassion, the joy of Jesus that is the most precious gift,” added Cardinal Tagle in a video message.
He said people will appreciate such gift even after Christmas is gone.
“Let us not forget that the gifts we give and receive are some symbols and signs of the greatest gift that God the Father has sent us, His son Jesus,” he said.
The Manila prelate earlier reminded the faithful that Christmas is not about decorations, gifts and money but about the love of God.
Tagle said the true essence of Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ.
“Are the others excited for Jesus this Christmas? It seems not to be the case. What they are excited about is the bonus. Even if there’s no Jesus as long there’s a bonus,” he said.
“They know where to shop (Christmas) sales but the Gospel seems to be not important,” said the cardinal.