In Sunday’s Mass in Rizal Park, Manila, Pope Francis told the throng of some 6 million that the devil’s lies are the greatest threat to God’s plan for our lives. “Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being ‘modern,’ ‘like everyone else,’” the Pope said.
Like many developing nations, the Philippines is experiencing a rising tide of secularism, which presents itself as hostile to the faith. One Filipino priest said that he is particularly attentive to the faith of young people, because it is in your youth where you might “lose your faith because of secularization.”
In addressing this situation, the Pope told his hearers Sunday that, “in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture.”
He also recognized that “the troubles, difficulties and wrongs all around us” can tempt us to give up, and to doubt God’s promises.
“But the Bible tells us that the great threat to God’s plan for us is, and always has been, the lie,” the Pope said. “The devil is the father of lies.”
Francis suggested that one of the devil’s lies is to make people think that unimportant things are weightier than they really are. “The devil distracts us with the view of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes,” he said.
Francis told the assembly that “we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets,” which leads us to “turn in on ourselves,” he said. “We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter. We forget to remain, at heart, children of God.”
“That is sin: to forget, in one’s heart, to be children of God,” he said.
On Sunday the Catholic Church in the Philippines celebrated the feast of the Santo Niño, or the child Jesus, and the Pope took the occasion to underscore what he called “the link between God’s Kingdom and the mystery of spiritual childhood.” Thousands in the crowd brought with them little dolls representing the child Jesus.
Quoting the New Testament, Francis said: “Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”
“All of us are God’s children, members of God’s family,” Francis said. “This is who we are. This is our identity.”
The Pope also called on his hearers to be evangelizers, especially in Asia. The Philippines is home to 60% of Asia’s 130 million Roman Catholics.
“Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia,” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome