Let’s all welcome the Pope
The ongoing hectic preparations to welcome a most revered visitor, Pope Francis, the Holy Father and Vicar of Christ, are getting feverish by the day, the excitement among the 80 million Filipino Catholic faithful continually rising in anticipation. In the thick of the preparations by various committees to ensure the Pope’s safety and comfort during his visit to our country, what would make him surely happy is an honest answer to his questions, “Where were your hearts while preparing for my visit?” Which he followed up with this statement: “I hope I will not be the focus of my personal visit to your country, but let Jesus Christ be the focus.”
What matters most is not what has been done to welcome him, but how we see him, and what we see in him. Pope Francis will surely be glad to hear our answers to the questions, “What have you done for the little ones, the poorest of the poor, the neglected and the homeless? What is this excitement all about?” These questions seek an answer beyond what the eyes can see, what the ears can hear, what the hands can feel and offer, and what the human mind can perceive. These questions need a deep discernment.
First, let us reflect on how we see our Holy Father and what we see in him. He is a great human being of humble origin, a man of great humility and simplicity. His favorite universal message in all his homilies and encyclicals is hope for the poor and the neglected, the people closest to his heart. His 5-day visit to our country carries a divine mission with a powerful impulse for spiritual reforms and revival.
Let us put Jesus in the center of our preparations to welcome Pope Francis. Let us be a welcoming community, surrounding him with affection and love in prayers.
I suggest that Masses be held in all dioceses in the Philippines, officiated by the bishops of the respective dioceses on the same day and time the Pope is celebrating the Mass in Leyte. Let them also “break bread” with 30 people from the poorest of the poor in their dioceses.
Let us have something new to practice humility and simplicity—to become more human. Our Holy Father is a strong advocate of reforms that are rooted in the Church tradition of honest service and humility. He believes that no meaningful reforms in institutions and societies can be achieved without clear spiritual renewal. Let us make something really new in our lives with his visit by keeping to a straight path to the Lord.
Let us straighten our morally crooked values. Let his visit inspire and awaken us from our deep slumber in moral decay and graft and corruption, and in government scandals driven by greed, pride, lust, materialism and the like.
Let us all welcome Pope Francis to our country.
—DR. RICARDO S.D. LEDESMA,
Batasan Hills, Quezon City
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