They were five days of feasting and celebrations. It was one great feast for the senses and the spirit. Everywhere he went, the people were there and it was always a joyful celebration – on his arrival at the airport, in Malacanang, at the Cathedral, at the Mall of Asia, in Tacloban, in Palo Leyte, on the UST Campus, at the Luneta and even at his final departure. It looked like the whole nation was there with him: physically or through the TV, in country and even overseas.
Now that he is gone, there is still a palpable afterglow of his visit. People are still nursing the ardor and the warmth that he brought into their lives. And I am glad that I am hearing and reading that the fast has to begin now that he is gone. People are talking and organizing on how to bring the Pope’s words and inspiration into their daily lives, how to make his message of love, mercy and compassion concrete realities.
To use the three languages of love he taught us, we must now be fast in moving from knowing and feeling him to doing acts of love and service for others. We must fast and starve ourselves of selfishness and greed to be able to go out to the peripheries as we promised him and care for the poor and the abandoned.
Filipinos are known for their ningas cogon. They easily flare up in passion and enthusiasm during peak moments like during the Pope’s visit. But the passion and enthusiasm just as quickly die down as soon as the event is over. I pray that this time it would be different. May the Spirit keep blowing across the land and lead us to become a nation that is truly founded on love, mercy and compassion.