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My whole country is at an all-time high right now because of the presence of Pope Francis. I am not a Catholic, but I am a Christian just like them and like most of the Filipinos. Born-again Christian teachings would be dead set against my participation in this event, but personally, I don’t see anything wrong with celebrating the arrival of such a holy man. In a world where living a life according to the teachings of Christ is endangered and actually ridiculed, then I think one should never fail to celebrate goodness and righteousness alive in such a humble vessel. I believe the Spirit of God is within him, which is probably why the mere sight of him on TV brought me to tears. I cannot explain it, but he had this effect on me and on the millions of Filipinos who were also watching him. I was so happy to see him in our country. There is something about him that inspires me and encourages me to live a life filled with love, mercy and goodness. Oh I know, I can never equal the innate goodness of this man, but he makes me want to try to do so. Perhaps, that is his magic, and perhaps that is why he is the Pope.

Pope Francis is a beacon of light for us, especially for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. He is a vanguard of the poor and weary, and he made it quite clear that his mission is to pastor the flock of our Lord Jesus Christ. As one man interviewed on TV put it — “the Pope has a heart for the poor and being an emerging country, we can honestly relate to his message and mission.”

The Philippines and her people have gone through a lot of struggles. It is, in my opinion, because of our Christian faith that we manage to remain as one of the happiest people in the world. Ask many Filipinos where their hope comes from, and they will likely tell you that they put their trust in God. “Makakaraos din tayo, may awa ang Diyos” or “We will be okay, because God is merciful” is an expression that is a part of most Filipinos’ lives.

As I am writing this, the Pope is in Tacloban communing with the victims of the strongest typhoon that has ever hit our country. They need the presence of the Church badly, they need to be reminded that God is with them and that God loves them. The reading is coming from Hebrews 4:12-16 where it is stated,

12For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

I am watching on TV, and the people are hungry for the Word of God. They are standing in the rain, in the storm, clinging to God for strength and the Pope is there, standing in the rain with them, guiding them towards God while facing the same storm, wearing the same raincoat — in solidarity with their struggles and pain. The sight brings tears to my eyes.

He says, “I come to tell you that Jesus is Lord and He never lets us down.” The faces in the crowd in Tacloban start crying, and we, in Manila start crying with them. Our hearts, with God, have become one. Indeed, the Word of God has penetrated our souls and spirits ….

The mass is nearly ending and I reflect on the Pope’s past homilies. His homily at the Manila Cathedral and his address at the Malacañang Palace yesterday, powerfully conveyed his message to the leaders of our country, and I only hope that their calloused hearts heard his words. There is hope though right? The Pope reminded me of that, and the scenario at the Palace reminded of the time when Christ sat down to eat and talk with a group of sinners, and later on, when someone asked Him about it, He replied that He came to seek out those who are lost.

Matthew 9:9-13

9As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’a For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

After thinking of this, I felt guilty about bashing the President for his thoughtless words and actions in front of the Pope, and for making fun of our politicians while they listened to this holy man. Who am I to judge? I myself have so many things to be sorry for …. At the end of it all — we are but sinners, striving to live a life that would bring a smile on God’s beautiful face. The Pope reminded me of that, and Catholic or not, for me, he is as Cardinal Tagle said — Peter upon whom Christ had built His Church.

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