The famous Manila Bay sunset signals the end for Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines. There has been a great outpouring of grace and popular piety among the Filipinos in the past four days. Hundreds of thousands followed him everywhere he went. And millions more were glued to their TV screens or phones or computers following him, not only in the Philippines but also everywhere in the world where there were Filipinos.
“What are you looking for?”
It does not take much to make the Filipino happy. Not many Filipinos are driven by a great desire for material or financial success. But we do excel in things of the spirit. Filipinos are magnificent singers and great artists and performers. We love serving and taking care of others. We revel in creating beauty in its different and myriad manifestations. The Filipino nation welcomed Pope Francis, not for the material comforts that he might bring but for the words and inspiration he came to proclaim. We resonated with his message of love, mercy and compassion. These are what we are looking for. And we got them in torrents during his visit.
“where are you staying?”
Everywhere Pope Francis went, they were there. They would wait patiently for hours just to get a glimpse of him. And everyone said it was worth the wait. More importantly, it was the Pope who asked, “Where are you staying?” He went and comforted the typhoon victims. “When I saw the destruction and your sufferings, I knew I had to come and see where you are staying.” he told them. He spent time with the homeless street children. He stretched his hands in embrace to the sick and elderly religious. He danced in glee with the youth. And he prayed with the sea of humanity that came to his final mass at the Luneta. “This trip is for me. I need to be evangelized by the poor, the suffering, the ordinary people with whom Christ stays everyday.” he seemed to be saying.
“Come, and you will see.”
Today, Filipinos see their faith with better clarity and deeper inspiration. The words and actions of Pope Francis in Manila have touched and changed lives. Filipinos now see their sufferings with a deeper insight. “I do not understand it either but I am here with you. Certain realities in life can only be seen through eyes cleansed by tears.” They came and saw the love, mercy and compassion he came to bring in his words, his actions, his smile and his humor.
“We have found the Messiah.”
From the very beginning, Pope Francis asked everyone not to focus on him but on Jesus. He asked everyone to allow themselves to be loved by Jesus. He taught the youth in UST to use the three languages of love: the language of the mind, the language of the heart and the language of the hands. To truly love Jesus, one must know Him clearly, feel Him more dearly and follow Him more nearly by doing acts of love and service to others. We have found the Messiah in the person, message and witnessing of Pope Francis. At the final mass, both Cardinal Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila, and Archbishop Villegas, President of the Catholic Bishops in the Philippines, pledged to the Holy Father in the name of the Filipinos that we will be bearers of Christ’s light into the world.