The Filipinos Pope Francis will meet and bless

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In his four-day visit to the Philippines next week, Pope Francis will have five major events: the official welcome by President Benigno Aquino 3rd in Malacañang on Wednesday, the Thursday morning Mass for clergy and religious at the Manila Cathedral, the Mass and meeting with families that afternoon at the Mall of Asia’s SM Arena, the Saturday Mass and lunch with Yolanda victims in Tacloban, the youth Mass on Sunday morning at the Ponifitical University of Santo Tomas, and finally the 5-million-plus-strong Eucharistic celebration at Rizal Park on Sunday afternoon.

What should each group take away from their encounter with His Holiness?

President Aquino and other dignitaries at the official Malacañang welcome would likely be treated to Francis’s constant admonition for social justice, peace and concern for the poor.

Perhaps he may also reiterate his call for greater spirituality and mercy amid the materialistic, mechanistic world.


But perhaps the Supreme Pontiff’s most important message for the wielders of state power and prestige is the unspoken one: love and truth move people far deeper and farther than force.

Tens or even hundreds of millions across the globe heed Francis’ words and example not because he has any armed divisions enforcing his will. Rather, humankind sees the goodness and compassion he preaches in his life and actions, and that Christian message now resonates more loudly in a world corrupted by financial excess, unconscionable inequity and environmental abuse.

Let’s pray the national and international power players at the Palace hear this special message for them in the Pope’s unforced brand of global influence, along with his spoken words on justice, peace, compassion and concern for the poor.

Evangelization in consecrated and family life

At the Manila Cathedral and the SM Arena, there will be much exhortation to the Joy of the Gospel in the religious life and the family life. While foreign media may look for controversial angles like celibacy and homosexuality, the main message to both key segments of the Church is a well-worn one: every Christian, whether consecrated or lay, must spread the Gospel in the life calling which God has given him or her.

Our faith grows by constantly infusing our souls with the Spirit through constant and devout prayer and sacraments, especially the Mass and the Eucharist, and through Christ-like lives, especially serving Him though the least of our brethren, those near to us and those apart from us.

Francis has repeatedly and profoundly imparted his pontifical perspective to this message by stressing mercy and compassion toward the poor and the wayward. For Filipinos who have tended to see religion as mainly spirituality and prayer, the Holy Father’s call to match that devotion with caring for others, poses a daily challenge. So does the outreach to sinners, especially among strict traditional believers.

We pray that the consecrated and the family can embrace this papal message and make it central to their Gospel lives, as it has always been in the life, message and grace of Jesus Christ. Our God is, first and foremost, a God of love and mercy, Whose very nature is to love everyone and everything and thus bring them into existence and the fullness of life with Him.

Compassion and succor for the suffering

If any Filipino Catholic coming out of the Manila Cathedral or the SM Arena somehow missed Francis’s paramount advocacy for mercy, his Saturday sojourn to Yolanda’s calamity center in Tacloban should deliver the message without fail. Indeed, before the super typhoon, there was no papal visit on the cards. But with the appalling, crushing devastation of November 2014, Francis had to come and be with his flooded flock.

It is hoped that the Pontiff’s Mass, meal and meeting with Taclobanons would stir more compassion and elicit more assistance for the victim communities. Beyond that, however, one prays that Catholics here and abroad pondering Francis’s mission to Yolanda’s victims, would discern the underlying and overarching message in any act of love and mercy: God loves us.

The greatest meaning, value and sanctity in being one with and giving relief to the suffering of others, whether natural, man-made or demonic, is that we mortals bring God’s immortal love, mercy, compassion and upliftment to humankind and the world. And the Vicar of Christ journeying across the planet to break bread and bring comfort to the devastated people of Leyte — that has to be among the clearest present-day images of God loving the distressed.

God grant that we as a people take to heart this icon and idea of man as the vessel for divine love and salvation, and realize it in every waking moment of our fallen lives. Then we shall be lifted to our Heavenly Father, even as He brings down to earth His bounty and grace through us.

Joy to the young and the universe

The Sunday events at UST and Luneta may well be the most frenzied, if not frolicking events, with cheering, chanting masses of youth and ordinary folk celebrating the beloved Vicar of Jesus Christ. And if there is one message that would hopefully gush out of España and Roxas Boulevard, it is, as Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation is titled, Evangelii Gaudium — The Joy of the Gospel.

Let the worried, warring, wicked world witness in Manila’s tumultuous throngs of January 19 the overflowing happiness that Jesus Himself promised His followers in the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are you! Let that be the biggest takeaway in the four days of faith and Francis in the Philippines.

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5 Comments

  1. Jesus satisfied the requirement of justice of God, so that God could have mercy on man. Filipinos are merciful people. Most of the time justice is swept under the rug as an “expression of mercy.” That is why there is no accountability in public life, and irresponsibility in personal life. Justice first before Mercy. “Justice is the minimum requirement of charity.” Mercy is a form of charity.

  2. Open your minds specially bobotantes hwag masilaw sa pera you are the victims of corrupt officials of this society have conscience of your own take the money and vote accordingly.

  3. The CBCP is getting tinatakot ata. The Gospel should be spread in Basilan and many parts of Mindanao. Ganuon lang… and Basilan and many parts of Mindanao can be helped when new elementary- and secondary schools run by priests and nuns get opened there. Paano ba iyan?

  4. I am hoping that the Pope’s 4-day visit to the country will open the minds of all of us to see and feel the sufferings of the multitude and do something to make society more equitable and humane. Until we see structural changes undertaken to undo centuries of abuses economically and spiritually, then this occasion may just turn out to be nothing more than a lip service like the past Papal visit. “This generation honors me with their lips, while their heart is far from me”, Matthew 15:18

    “Not everyone who says Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but rather he who does the will of my Father”, Matthew 7:21