January 15-19, 2015, Manila Philippines.
Since Pope Francis step in the country, I could not take my eyes and ears away from our television. I am just one of the million Filipinos who are excited to see the Pope and I am also just one of the million Filipinos who was moved by his presence, gestures and words.
Before I heard the good news, I already dreamed of the Pope, Cardinals and a sister who died. I honestly did not know what is the meaning of my dream and I eagerly wanted to know who that sister was. And most importantly, why did the Pope run after me and said “Why are you leaving? We will pray.” Goosebumps, yes, now I know the meaning of my dream. Pope Francis visited the Philippines, there were Cardinals and the sister who died that we should pray for is Kristel Padasas. And “Why am I leaving?” is something to do with my faith. It means, it is time for me to get back my faith to Lord Jesus. You could check out my entry here.
Pope Francis stayed in the Philippines for five days. There is no single day I missed his appearance and there is no single moment I did not cry. I swam all the way to SM MOA to see him. At first try, I quite did not succeeded because I was at the back row and his mobile is running fast. After an hour and more of waiting, I saw the Holy Father going back to Apostolic Nunciature in his Pope mobile. He was smiling graciously, his aura is so pure and glowing and I could not see any stress in his face. Even though we are meters apart from him, I could still sense his presence and warm spirit. My longing for him did not end in SM MOA, I followed him before he leave the country. For the second time, I saw him in the longest seconds ever. If only I could go with him in Vatican City, that would be my peace. Indeed, he is sent from Heaven to renew the faith and spirit of Filipino people which is really timely because of so much tragedy happened last two years ago.
Going through my reflections, I have learned the following from the Holy Father:
1. LOVE FOR POOR
Whenever I witness poverty and sufferings of poor, especially old ones and children, I always ask God, “Why there are poor and helpless people?” ,”Why can’t all people be rich so that there are no inequality and disgrace?“, “Why I am helpless”? I could not handle situations like seeing old man begging for money in the street, street children taking solvent, family who have nothing to eat but salt, sick who could not be sent for check up and so on. I always pray to God to give me wealth so I could help them, but of course, my prayer is not granted until now and it is for a reason, I know. In my own small way of helping, whenever I have enough money, I help these kind of people. I give them money and food without realizing I am not helping them in anyway because I am not helping them to get away from their situation.
Pope Francis said, ” 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, allow them to evangelize you. Because they have values that you do not.”
I never realized that in the Bible the protagonist are the poor, the sick and the sinners. Meaning, there are really are and there really should be poor, sick and sinners because without them we will not be able to understand the message of God, we will not be able to see the purpose of our life and we will not be able to see that the Kingdom of God is reigning in poor, sick and sinners. Poor people with good will have especial place in Heaven because they are the ones who are always seeking and praying to God. Jesus loves the poor, the sick and the sinners. They are the living testimony that Jesus is alive!
I help deserving poor people, but there are many times that I do not learn from them because I don’t talk to them. I only see their sufferings but I do not see their hearts and I do not hear their weeps. I only give them a drop of water but not a full glass. This is the reason why I do not feel contented, as if I did not done something for them, and I still feel sorry. Pope Francis made me realize that they are the most important people in the society. Not only because they need help but because of what they can do to your heart and how you can see God’s heart in them. So, we should speak to them, have time with them and have them evangelize us. There you will realize, God is good all the time!
2. IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY
I wanted to build my own family, but, my orientation of family is just me and my child. Pope Francis said “Do not be afraid of marriage.”, yes, I am not afraid of marriage but I know I will be happy just having a child. I did not feel any guilt when the Holy Father explained that “Family is the union of the man and the woman, and the children that come from this union.” This is the exact words that our world needs today. I am one with LGTB, but, I am not one with same-sex marriage. The Holy Father put this in clear that family cannot be considered as family without union of man and woman. So I guess I will not have a family? 🙂 Anyway, I feel sensitive discussing same-sex marriage because I do not agree in this proposal. The Church respects us so we must respect them in return. God said we are His children. God loves us, God forgives us, God respects us, God do not see us for who we are but what we have done, so please, stop and return the favor to God. I know we have the freedom,but, we also have the wisdom to know the difference.
Also, Pope Francis underscore the importance of family because it is in the family where good values and fear to God starts. Without the good guidance of parents, their children will not grow responsible, loving, with prudence and with faith. It is always in the family.
3. READ THE HOLY BIBLE
There is no single moment I heard Pope Francis say “repent” in his sermons. He never used that word because for me it is a very sensitive and overused word. For me, one of his messages is to read and reflect in the Words of God through the Holy Bible. I admit, I only read the Holy Bible once in a year and I only know few verses. There is no hard in reading the Holy Bible but what I wanted now is to read and understand His Words through people like Pope Francis. Why? Because I might have a different interpretation than what is real because again, I am not used to read Bible. Little by little, I know I will understand the Words of God and I pray to God to shower me with wisdom so I could speak His Words fluently in my heart without memorizing any. I also pray to God to bless me with tongue that could speak from my heart. I wanted to strengthen my relationship to Him. I am longing for His presence.
4. BE HUMBLE AND DO NOT GOSSIP
“Gossip can kill.”, yes. A statement from the Pope which I hold unto. Literally and not literally, gossip could kill a person. It could provoke someone to kill someone, it could throw away dignity of a person and it could cause hatred which could kill a soul of a person. In my nature of work, gossip is everywhere. Music to my ears, really, and sometimes I say I could not resist because it’s coming to me without me hunting them.
Because of Pope Francis, I was enlightened that gossip could kill a person and that I could prevent gossip. First, if I know that a person has an agenda to a person, I should stop him before he could say anything negative thing about the person. I could tell him, “I’m sorry, but I am not interested of what you are about to share me.“. Second, if I accidentally heard the gossip, kill the gossip in me. Meaning, the gossip should stop in me and that I should not share it to others.
And of course, be humble. The smile of Pope Francis never fade in his face. He wore raincoat while having a mass, he loves children, he blessed the poor and anointed the sick. He never showed the Filipinos that his important. He worked hard, he roamed around just to be seen by waiting Filipinos, he speaks from his heart. Be humble. Yes, that is what I have learned from Pope Francis. Just like Jesus Who was sent from Heaven to wash away the sins of human race. Just like Jesus who never stop and never said to His Father that He is already tired. Just like Jesus who eats with poor people. Just like Jesus who sacrificed for the will of God. Just like Jesus Who’s faith was tested by Satan. Just like him.
5. FINISH YOUR MEAL
Every finished meal is a help to fight hunger. I find this puzzling but I have realized that it is because when I get the right amount of food I could consume, there will be no waste. In this, there will be plenty of vegetable, rice, fish, meat and so on for everybody. No shortage of food will happen and the cost of each meal will be affordable for everybody.
In a country where fancy restaurants are everywhere, hunger is also present. Why? Because poor people cannot expensive food. Poverty and hunger are twins, they will always be.
And then it is true what Filipino always say, “Ubusin mo ang pagkain mo, madaming nagugutom.” (Finish your meal, many people are hungry.)
6. PRAY FOR YOURSELF AND PRAY FOR OTHERS
I already tested the power of prayers. Prayer is so powerful, I personally find it as my source of strength and energy. And whenever I pray for other people, I also feel blessed because it gives me a warm heart, I could feel Jesus is touching me, Jesus is smiling on me.
When someone or somebody is praying for you, you could also feel the entire energy and the blessed of the Lord upon you. It is like a pool of energy and spirit from each and everyone that is showering unto you. So, do not forget to pray.