Villegas reminds faithful: ‘God is not far beyond our reach’

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MANILA, Dec. 24, 2014 — The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the eve of Christmas reminded the Filipino faithful of the closeness of Christ to His people, noting that He is always present to guide the faithful regardless of the circumstances.

The belén, a traditional Filipino symbol for Christmas is a creche or tableau depicting the Nativity scene. (Photo: Shirley Paynor)

“Christ is in all of us. (He) is in our poverty, in our prosperity, in our hunger, in our plenty. Christ is in our storms and calamities. (He) is in our progress and tranquility, in our dark nights, in our sunny days. Christ is always with us,” said Lingayen – Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas in his Christmas message to the faithful.

Jesus close to us

“Indeed that is the message of Christmas. God is not far beyond our reach. God has become small, small like a baby, to make it easier for us to reach him; to carry him; to hug him and caress him; to embrace him and kiss him,” he added.

Villegas noted that the forthcoming visit of Pope Francis “carries an added reason for excitement,” noting that the papal visit scheduled early next year is an affirmation of the Lord’s love for His people.

“Although we believe in faith that God is always with us, we also know in our hearts that the coming of the Pope to the Philippines is a renewed affirmation of the love of God for us,” the prelate said.

‘Moment of grace’

“When Pope Francis comes, he brings to us Jesus Himself, the Word made flesh, Emmanuel, God-with-us,” he added.

He reminded the faithful that just like Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the focus of the papal visit must also be the Son of God.

“[The Pope] comes to us to pay homage to Christ who is already in our country even before the start of the papal visit. The papal visit is Jesus in thePope visiting Jesus in the Filipino. What a wonderful moment of grace!” Villegas said.

The CBCP president urged the faithful to call on to the Lord so that He may provide spiritual guidance to the faithful in their everyday lives.

“As we thank God who has chosen to be so near, in fact to dwell right in our hearts, let us also beg the Lord to open our eyes and hearts that we may always see the wonder of His tender love everyday of the coming year in everything that happens, in every person we meet, in every moment of our lives,” Villegas said. (Jennifer Orillaza/CBCP News)

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