Hail Pope Francis!

I know that at this time, we still can’t get enough of our beloved Pope Francis. We were all in suspended animation throughout his visit. Now we wanted him to come back soon. In expressing the gratitude of the Filipino Catholic faithful, His Eminence Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle gave a very powerful, moving, and stirring words of gratitude during the final Mass at the Quirino Grandstand. His speech was so inspiring, in that we felt it reflected what every Filipino wanted to say:


“Every Filipino wants to go with you. Don’t be afraid. Every Filipino wants to go with you – not to Rome – but to the peripheries. We want to go with you to the shanties, to the prison cells, to hospitals, to the world of politics, finance, arts, the sciences, culture, education, and social communication. We will go to those worlds with you to bring the light of Christ. Jesus is the center of your pastoral visit and the cornerstone of the visit. We will go, Holy Father, with you where the light of Jesus is needed.”


The Cardinal captured what the Filipino faithful needs to tell and affirm to the Holy Father. It was the kind of speech we’d like our leader to tell Pope Francis. It brought a ray of sunshine into our weary souls. Like any Filipino watching the TV live coverage of the Pope’s visit, there were several, in fact many moments of being in awe of the power of the Holy Spirit moving each one of the faithful during his days in the Philippines.


Throughout the 5-day visit, we are reminded of our Catholic faith. We realize the richness of our life with faith, knowing that Jesus is with us in our earthly pilgrimage. “We are poor but when I saw Pope Francis, I realized we are rich after all. We are rich in God’s love,” says street child Jason Reyes. We get the assurance that despite our difficulties, we have Our Lord who journeys with us all the way. Columnist Sara Soliven De Guzman aptly said, “The Pope’s visit also tells us of our thirst for Jesus. It seems like we can’t get enough of it”. He gave each of us a boost to be good spiritual leaders. He reactivated our wits, energized our spirits and encouraged us to become better.


No doubt we are all refreshed: a new beginning, a new dawn, a new sunrise. From the moment the Pope arrived, we are all energized, inspired and excited. We can see people who followed the Pope wherever he went or expected to pass by. Never mind the raging typhoon in Tacloban, the small space in UST, or the rainy Quirino Grandstand, as the mere sight of the Pope moved us deeply! People waited overnight to secure their spots along the route that the Holy Father will take. While everyone was in “Pope Francis” mood, this adrenaline rush enabled many of our brothers and sisters to be on the go to follow him. The Pope said he also felt the same every time he sees the crowd. Amazing indeed!


We are inspired to move into action, to be the light to others and the world. The effect of Pope Francis’ presence is beyond description. What he gave this nation is something only a Holy Man of God can give. He really gave a big boost to our weary souls. His trademark smile and natural charm touched our hearts. He isn’t just a figure of the Catholic Church, he showed us the “Way” to Jesus. One priest said, “These are great times to be a priest”. As Cardinal Tagle said at the Manila Cathedral, “Our melodies make our spirits soar above the tragedies of life. Our faith makes us stand up again and again after deadly fires, earthquakes, typhoons and wars. And now, as many of our poor people are just beginning to rise from recent natural and human-made calamities, you, Holy Father came to us. You bring fire, not to destroy but to purify. You bring an earthquake, not to shatter but to awaken. You bring weapons, not to kill but to assure. Indeed, “you are Peter, the Rock upon which Jesus builds His Church” (Matthew 16:18). You are Peter who comes “to strengthen your brothers and sisters in faith” (Luke 22:32). We welcome you, successor of Peter, to this blessed land of untiring hope, of infinite music and of joyful faith. With your visit we know Jesus will renew and rebuild His Church in the Philippines”.


Indeed, one can confidently say that the Pope’s visit renewed us deeply and will inspire everyone to rebuild Jesus within. Just like his model, St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis is rebuilding His Church in this part of the world.


In response, we must emulate his actions and proclaim his message to the world. As promised, let us offer prayers for him and help spread the light of Jesus. Like Pope Francis, may we also reflect Jesus, whose light we need in our earthly journey.


The people who walked in darkness, have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shone” (Is. 9: 1).

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