Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The #PopeFranciseffect in the Philippines: My Thoughts

Over the weekend, millions of Filipinos (mostly Christian Catholics) gathered in the much anticipated 5-day visit of Pope Francis in the Philippines. As early as last year, Filipinos are eagerly awaiting and preparing for his arrival. Not everyone is privileged enough to visit the Vatican City as it cost thousands of bucks to get there or to have a (if you're lucky enough) glimpse of him in the city. But with the news of the coming of the Pope, everyone was given high hopes and spirits to see him in person as a once in a lifetime experience one could get including myself. I may have a big chance to visit Rome but for the majority which is the poor, it is quite impossible. So on January 15, 2015 at around past 5 in the afternoon, everyone is in festive mood (as it is also the celebration of the feast of Sto. Niño) to welcome him. It marked the most awaited day for all Roman Catholics in the Philippines after the last time Pope John Paul II visited the country in almost a decade. Good thing that the Philippine Government declared it a long-holiday (only at the National Capital Region) for our countrymen to be able to witness and be with the Pope in this memorable event in Catholic church. I believe that it is a timely event as it is the start of the new year, to bring hope and reflection for each and everyone of us. As new year's resolutions brings guide for a better life ahead each year, Pope Francis' message at the start of the year is truly moving, inspiring, a blessing, enlightening and leave each and everyone of us feeling recharged and immensely cleansed with God's divine intervention and immeasurable love for us overflowing through Pope's presence and through each Filipino's story as told. 

A lot of opinions though came to life because of differences in religion and belief. One thing is very important over all ideals and beliefs is towards our faith. Where are we being God's shepherd here on Earth? We should be deliverers of God's Word to see, to feel and to do good for our brothers and sisters who are the less fortunate in life. We are so quick to judge, to conclude and righteous in our own beliefs, in the religion we belong and yet we are showing ungodly practices. We pray, hear mass, involved in our church's activities and yet we are the opposite of what our Lord wants us to be. The Word of God that Pope Francis shared to us is clear that we need mercy, compassion, love to be good stewards of God's heaven on Earth. Whatever religious congregation we belong, as long as we are delivering what is expected of us, then we are making our God happy. It is not about the physical statues nor the presence of human persons like Pope Francis that we worship per se, but how these saints and people that God send as medium or instruments to make us realize that God is in us, with us every step of our way. Their ways are truly inspiring and worth following. Sure, they have there own mistakes and sins, but more so they have made a big difference in serving the Lord our God in their own little ways. That we should not forget God as our Savior, our Redeemer, our Salvation in the hope when everything is faltering. The unwavering love, hope, compassion and mercy is what Pope Frances emphasizes God wants us to remember and put to heart. It is not God equals Pope Francis but like God, Pope Francis wants us to be aware that we should not lose hope, lose faith and lose ourselves for God is right there. 

I believe that one must also respect one's religious belief. If you are serving the Lord in ways that He wants you to see, feel and do, then you are in the right path. No need to argue about who's better. It is just sad that people are so into religion where in fact religion does not save you. It's your faith and your character will define how you are to our Creator, our Redeemer and Savior. In parting words, I hope that with the visit of Pope Francis we are touched with the message it delivered. It's some sort of a retreat that we have reflected upon, come to terms with ourselves to our Lord and how God has touched our soul, our heart and mind silently. #popefrancisPH

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