THE first time I saw a pope was back in 1970 when Pope Paul VI visited the Philippines, the first pope to visit the country. The popemobile passed in front of us along the stretch of Roxas boulevard allowing me a clear view of the Pope. He glanced at our direction and it seemed like I caught his eye, or so it seemed. And just when he did, I felt a flush of an unexplainable feeling. I did not cry. I just kept on waving and looking and watching ‘til his view faded away. I felt blessed. But I was too young then to listen and understand the message he brought. Four decades later, our nation is blessed to be visited again by a pope who is well-loved and admired for his simplicity and candor.
When that little girl cried during Pope Francis’ meeting with the youth at the University of Santo Tomas, we all cried with her. I know I did. Not once but many times. I cried the moment I saw the Pope alight from his plane upon his arrival from Sri Lanka. I cried when I heard him do the homily. At the Cathedral. In MOA. In Tacloban. And finally, in Luneta.
Whoever said crying is for the weak must be what we call manhid! Have we become a nation inured, jaded, apathetic to the plight of our less fortunate that we no longer feel anything but despair? The Pope could not have said it any better. We must cry.
To cry is to be able to feel. How can we emphatize with the plight of the poor if we cannot feel, if our hearts are made of steel. The Pope many times told his audience get out of your comfort zones and go where the poor are. He may be directing the call to those who think that they alone are the children of God. We are all God’s children. In his eyes, we are all the same. Di lang kayo ang anak ng Diyos!
And so we thank that little girl for crying on our behalf, before the Pope. In so doing, we have been able to cleanse our selves of hate, of anger, of hopelessness. Hopefully, it has purged us from sin so we can see better, feel better and do better instead of pushing this nation towards apathy. Thank you Pope Francis. For reminding us to hold on to our dreams because Jesus has taken the cudgels for us. He has suffered for us to pave the way. Yes, we will pray for you that you may live a long healthy life for you are a living saint.
Can’t get enough of the Pope? Here are more quotable quotes:
“The great Dostoyevsky (Russian novelist, Crime and Punishment) asked himself this, and he could not answer. Why do children suffer? She, with her weeping, a woman who was weeping. When I say it is important that women be held in higher consideration in the church, it’s not just to give them a function as the secretary of a disaster (Was the Pope referring to Dinky Soliman), though this could be ok too. No, it’s so that they may tell us how they feel and view reality. Because women view things from a different richness, a larger one. Another thing I would like to underscore is what I said to the last young man (at the meeting with young people), who truly works well, he gives and gives and gives, he organizes to help the poor. But don’t forget that we too need to be beggars, from them, from the poor. Because the poor evangelize us. If we take the poor away from the Gospel, we cannot understand Jesus’ message. The poor evangelize us. I go to evangelize the poor, yes, but let you be evangelized by them. Because they have values that you do not.”
“One of the things that is lost when there is too much wealth or when values are misunderstood or we have become accustomed to injustice, to this culture of waste, is the capacity to cry. This is a grace we must ask for. There is a beautiful prayer in the ancient missal, for crying. It went more or less like this: Lord, you who have made it so that Moses with his cane could make water flow from a stone, make it so that from the rock that is my heart, the water of tears may flow. It’s a beautiful prayer. We Christians must ask for the grace to cry, especially well-to-do Christians.
And cry about injustice and cry about sins. Because crying opens you to understand new realities, or new dimensions to realities. This is what the girl said, what I said to her. She was the only one to ask that question to which there is no answer, why do children suffer?”
God is Great!