Without love and concern for others, a person’s devotion to Jesus Christ is false, said a Catholic bishop during a novena Mass at Manila’s Quiapo church on Jan. 7.
Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista of Imus told devotees of the Black Nazarene who attended Mass to always aim at the image of God in their neighbor.
“No matter how strong our devotion to God is if we don’t have genuine concern for others, our devotion is not real. We must remember this,” said the prelate in his homily.
“A true devotion to the Black Nazarene and even to other saints should be seen in the way we live, in caring, and helping especially those in need,” he said.
The bishop stressed that devotion cannot be measured by material possessions, or even how often one goes to church. What is important is to live life in the spirit of love and charity, he said.
“Charity is where God is. We see God in all our expressions of love,” Bishop Evangelista added. “Love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable. It should always be together.”
The nine-day novena Masses at Quiapo church started on Dec. 31 and will last until January 9, the celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila.
This year, the traditional “traslacion,” literally transfer, or the procession of the Black Nazarene image that usually attracts millions of people has been canceled due to the pandemic.
Authorities also limited attendance of services inside the church to 400 people for each of the 15 Masses on Jan. 9.
To allow devotees to observe the celebrations, local versions of the “traslacion” will be held across the country.
Monsignor Hernando Coronel, rector of Quiapo church, said there will be “fiesta” Masses in different parishes, especially within the Manila Archdiocese and nearby dioceses.
Father Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of Quiapo church, said there are dioceses and parishes that will hold religious processions and motorcades.
More than 7,000 policemen will be deployed in Manila to secure the celebration and ensure that health protocols are implemented.
With reports from CBCP News