BEtween friends: Francis, conqueror PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 26 January 2015 11:51

By: Linda Cababa – espinosa, ED. D.


The visit of the Holy Father to the Philippines is an event the Filipinos, whom he called “People of God,” will long remember and now destined to be a part of the country’s religious history.  The impact he made on the lives of the millions who lined up the streets of Manila and Tacloban unmindful of the long uncomfortable hours, disregarding fatigue, hunger and storm hoping to touch him, and failing in that, even just to get a glimpse of him, will be treasured family stories that will resonate in their living rooms from generation to generation.

The Holy Father came and went and the Filipinos were charmed, awed, hypnotized and won over by his profound simplicity, by the magnetism of his signature smile and his irresistible paternal affection for children untiringly demonstrated throughout his five-day visit.  Even those who lived out of Manila and Leyte and who simply followed the events on television could not help wishing they were where the action was.  Never mind the fatigue, the hunger and the rain.  Just being there would have been all worth it.

He claimed to have learned a lot from the Filipino’s spiritual fervor, but the gems that came from him were unforgettable:  “When you lose the capacity to dream, you lose the capacity to love;” “Let us learn to cry. If we don’t learn to cry, we can’t be good Christians.”  On top of these was the repeated exhortation to love, serve the poor, and treat them with dignity.

For a 78-year old man who went through a demanding five – day schedule, his unwavering enthusiasm in waving to the crowds, shaking the hands of those within his reach, kissing the children, going out and blessing those who asked for it belied his age.  Not many his age exhibit the same physical energy, durability, mental sensitivity and acuity.  That he considered it spiritually obligatory on his part to reach out to disabled persons who risked their lives to get a chance to see and touch him was most reflective of the mercy and compassion that he preached during his stay.  Very clearly, everything he did was mercy and compassion in action.

Unintentionally, and most assuredly, without even thinking about it, the trip of Pope Francis actually came very close to the epic statement of the historic Roman conqueror Julius Caesar, after winning a war in 47 B.C. when, in triumph, he proclaimed:  I came, I saw, I conquered.

Of course Caesar made the statement in the context of victory in war.  Pope Francis didn’t say the words but simply made the victory for all to see after five memorable days in the Philippines, in the quiet and spiritual context of love and peace.  For indeed he came, he saw, and he conquered the hearts and minds of the millions of catholic Filipinos who regarded it a blessing to be considered worthy of his visit and even just to be able to see him in person.