It was a crowd unlike any other. Roughly 6 million people were expected in Manila's Rizal Park for the Pope's closing Mass in the Philippines. Neither the rain or the cold, deterred them from waiting for hours for a chance to see Pope Francis.
Since the Sunday Mass coincided with the Feast Day of the Santo Niño, the Pope reminded Catholics that as children of God, they have the responsibility of proclaiming the Gospel.
"Today Saint Paul has told us that in Christ we have become God's adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ. This is who we are, this is our identity.”
The Philippines is the most Catholic country in Asia. The Pope called on the crowd, to stay true to the Gospel, even when faced with the temptation of giving up.
When the Gospel seems like it does not apply or that it's irrelevant, that's when one must stay strong, because that's when the devil, he explained, slips in.
"The devil is the father of all lies. Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being 'modern' like 'everyone else.' He distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures and superficial pastimes.”
The importance of carrying for one's family was also a main theme. From the unborn all the way to the elderly. As a society, he reminded them that street children, the needy and exploited, should not be ignored. The local Archbishop, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, had this to say.
CARD. LUIS ANTONIO TAGLE
Archbishop of Manila
"Every Filipino wants to go with you... Not to Rome, but to the peripheries, to the shanties, to prison cells, to hospitals.”
After his homily, the Pope gave his missionary blessing as millions of people looked on. In fact, such a big crowd was expected that the government advised children, pregnant women and the elderly to stay home.
Nonetheless, as the Pope said farewell from his popemobile, the Rizal Park and the streets surrounding it were completely packed.