After two decades, another Vicar of Christ has come to the Philippines and he’s here till Monday.
Awareness of Pope Francis’ visit, compared to that of Pope and now St. John Paul II in 1995, is more widespread, with print, broadcast and social media all abuzz with reports and updates.
A flurry of news reports, features, television specials and online posts have made people quite familiar with what kind of leader Pope Francis is. He does not want his visit to be lavish, nor focused on him, but rather simple and focused on Jesus. However, it seems that even the Pope’s requests are not heeded by most of our countrymen.
As the world’s most prominent religious leader spends time in the country, security is the top priority of government. The Pope’s security is an unquestionable necessity, specially in these times, when terror attacks are a constant threat.
However, there are some threats that seem to be political and internal rather than tyrannical or linked to terrorist activities.
News about overpriced barriers and adult diapers being issued to the security force seem to be timely diversions from recent public concerns on fare hikes. Coincidental or not, these are just some of the biggest concerns.
Have you seen the places the Pope is set to pass? Shameless politicians, national and local, even in the lowest of barangays, fill the streets with self-serving welcome posters.
As a precursor to the papal visit, another Catholic event was held last Jan. 9 to celebrate the feast of the Black Nazarene.
This event, though one of mostly religious intent and purpose, left a trail of rubbish and bottles of human waste on the streets of Manila. Is this the kind of discipline people will exhibit during the Pope’s visit?
Will all the negative things we say about the current state of our country, as a nation with a majority of Catholics, we share a fervent belief that the Pope’s presence, although short, will alleviate some of the nation’s pain and may even prick the conscience of the corrupt.
Awareness of the Pope, his visit and his vision for Catholics seemed to rekindle the faith of those who lost it due to controversies surrounding the Church. Prior to the new year, an increase in the number of people going to Mass was evident.
In addition, with the youth hooked on social media, it was almost impossible for them to miss out on a post about the Pope, his memorable quotes and his activities. With his evangelical messages just a click away, religious awareness has increased.
Many of the faithful also believe that the papal visit brings with it the healing of our nation, a pathway to recovery from all of the turmoil and tragedies we have gone through.
Though we may get caught up in all the preparations for his arrival and the anxiety of waiting for his public audience, we should not forget the real preparation needed for this rare occasion.
Let us all take to heart what Pope Francis said: Let us make this about Jesus, and not about him.
We should not allow ourselves to be distracted from the real purpose of his arrival. Instead of concerning ourselves with politicized preparations and agenda, we should thank God for sending us His messenger and try to focus on our internal preparation, and how we can learn from Pope Francis’ message and example.