Cardinal Jose Advincula celebrated his first Feast of the Black Nazarene Mass as Manila archbishop on Sunday in an almost empty Quiapo Church, urging the devotees “to help each other live with dignity” in the face of crisis.
For the first time in recent memory, public Masses inside the minor basilica were banned for the feast amidst the sharp spike in coronavirus cases.
Instead, more than a dozen Masses were held in the church throughout the day and were livestreamed through the archdiocese’s different online platforms.
In his homily to devotees following the Mass on television and online, he exhorted them to rise from the challenges, turn away from sin and live as God’s children.
“Let us reach out to our brothers and sisters, especially those who are struggling today,” Advincula said in Filipino.
According to him, God does not want the people’s dignity to be trampled on. “He does not want us to be destroyed by sin and wickedness,” he said.
“Let us also stand to lead one another to holiness and prosperity in life,” Advincula said.
This year’s celebration also marked the second time after last year that the famous procession of the revered image of the Black Nazarene was called off since World War II.
The cardinal assured the devotees who were saddened by the restrictions that the Black Nazarene is still with them.
“Although not all of us can visit here in Quiapo, the Señor himself visits our families and homes,” Advincula said.
“Even if we can’t get close to his image, He is the one who is approaching us now. He enters our hearts and strengthens our hope. He intercedes with us and binds us in love,” he said.
The Manila archbishop also assured the millions of devotees that Jesus knows what they are going through, especially during this pandemic.
“He feels for us and he sympathizes with us,” he added.