Like the many who gathered together to see Jesus as he returned to Capernaum, millions have come out to meet Pope Francis as he visits the Philippines. They have come to be blessed by his presence, to hear his message of love, mercy and compassion, to share some sacred moments with him. In a land often visited and beset by destructive typhoons, there is now a grace storm of grace blowing across the land. Hearts are inflamed with love, heads are raised skyward in prayer and hands reach out across in unity and brotherhood.
Millions are willing and ready to be drenched and flooded in this shower of blessings from the Pope’s visit. But there are those who are not willing to get wet. They have brought their umbrellas.
People lined the streets where he would pass and waited for hours just to get a glimpse of him. There are those who complain about the barriers that kept the crowds from flooding the streets. “Why are they trying to keep the people away from the Pope?”
The Pope challenged the Filipino nation during his speech in Malacanang “to break the bonds of injustice and oppression, which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequalities.” Still there were those who missed that because they were more concerned about the President’s speech. “Why is he so petty and vindictive?”
Pope Francis told the families gathered at the Mall of Asia to always keep their dreams alive for their families, not to lose the illusions they had of each other as a couple when they were still boyfriend-girlfriend. “To dream how your daughter or son will be. It is not possible to have a family without such dreams. When you lose this capacity to dream, then you lose the capacity to love and this energy to love is lost,” he said. Still, there were those who kibitzed from the sides, “Why are there no non-traditional families or broken families or families in difficulties in this gathering?”
As his wont, Pope Francis deviated from his itinerary and met with street children after his Mass at the Cathedral. It was a joyful and grace-filled visit. And true enough, there are those asking, “What about the disabled children? Or the terminally ill? Or those abandoned?”
There were many during the time of Christ who saw Him and heard His words but they missed the message because of similar questions, “Why does this man speak that way? Why does he dine with sinners? Why does he not wash his hands? Why does he heal on the Sabbath?” Christ makes the first move. He says, “Come! Do not be afraid.” But we have to respond in faith and follow Him.
From afar and through the web, I can feel the great outpouring of love, joy and spirituality among the Filipinos. In our simple and childlike (sometimes, childish) faith, people have come out to meet and see the Pope. And in some mysterious and ineffable manner, he is touching people and changing lives. The Spirit of God is blowing mightily across he Philippines right now.