Without love and concern for others, a person’s devotion to Jesus Christ is false, a Catholic bishop said.
Presiding over a novena Mass at Quiapo Church on Thursday, Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista of Imus told people 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,” Evangelista said 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 also stressed that devotion cannot be measured by material possessions, or even how often one goes to church.
What is important, according to the bishop, is to live life in the spirit of love and charity.
“Charity is where God is. We see God in all our expressions of love,” 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 last Dec. 31 in preparation for Feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9.
This year, however, the traditional “Traslacion” or the procession of the Black Nazarene image, which usually gathers millions of devotees to Manila, has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Authorities will also limit attendance of services at the church on Saturday with a 400-person cap for each of the 15 Masses for Saturday’s feast.
To allow wide participation, localized celebrations of the Traslacion will also be held across the country.
Quiapo Church Rector Msgr. Hernando Coronel said there will be similar fiesta Masses held in different parishes, especially within the Manila archdiocese and nearby dioceses.
“The Archdiocese of Manila, dioceses of Kalookan, Cubao, Novaliches, Pasig, Parañaque, and several provinces will have their own fiesta Masses,” Coronel said.
Fr. Douglas Badong, parochial vicar of Quiapo Church, said there are also dioceses and parishes, where processions and motorcades will be held.
“In places, where the local government gave permission, there will be processions and motorcades,” he said.
More than 7,000 cops will also be deployed in Manila to secure the celebration and ensure that health protocols are implemented.