Yesterday the Philippines farewelled Pope Francis after three remarkable days of friendship. It is worth searching the visit online for some of the video clips and homilies.
In these days I have received a number of emails from friends in the Philippines, and I am happy to share two emails that I received this morning, both from people who have taken time to reflect on the beauty of the opportunity offered by the presence of the pope in their country.
The first reflection is shared by Mother Giovanna.
The Pope is visiting our country; today is also the Feast of St. Nino and it is the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We are spoilt for choice.
So to begin with the first event I mentioned, I tell you that I was particularly impressed By Pope’s Francis insistence on prayer at the encounter with the families on Friday evening. Here are his conclusive words: “Pray often and take the fruits of your prayer into the world, that all may know Jesus Christ and his merciful love.”
He also said that prayer is the real strength of a family and what keeps it united.
Prayer, the dialogue with the Lord, our trusting in him and leaving things in his hands is the most powerful weapon against the colonization of our lives by the powers of this world. Since we cannot serve two masters. Prayer helps us to cling to our Lord.
Then, at the Mass in Tacloban, to the victims of Yolanda’s typhoon, he choose to speak off the cuff and continually repeated just one thing, that the Jesus is the Lord and that he is the Lord on the cross:
“I came to tell you that Jesus is the Lord and he never lets us down. He was consecrated Lord on the throne of the cross and there he experienced all our calamities. He is the Lord, he is there for you. We have a Lord that is able to cry with us to accompany us in the most difficult moments of our lives. I walk with you all with a silent heart. Most of you were probably asking: “Why Lord?” To each of you Christ responds from his heart upon the cross. Let’s look to Christ. He is the Lord! Let’s us keep a moment of silence and look to Christ.”
Maybe this is what we really need to be reminded of. I am surprised that, at the international level, this visit of the Pope has been given so little resonance. People are fighting for freedoms that are clearly illusory: the subjective freedom to express oneself with no consideration for the beliefs and feelings of others and the freedom of eliminating others who are offending this beliefs or feelings. The Pope reaffirms the only freedom that really makes of us worthy human beings: our trust in the Lord.
In his homily for the Mass with the priests and religious in Manila he quoted St. Therese of Lisieux and affirmed that their main task is to be love at the heart of the church.
Again a powerful reminder that the dignity and the personality of a christian and especially a consecrated does not depend on what he or she does but on his/her relationship with the Lord, in his/her love for the Lord.
In the night Office second reading, St. Augustine reminded us that we are often deluding ourselves because of our pride. We want to be the lords of our lives and are allured by the same false freedoms that deceive all. Today, our nation, celebrates the Santo Nino, who is not just the Holy Child, but the Lord of all nations. The Santo Nino is the Lord; he has the world in his hand and, despite his features as a child, he shows the wisdom of the ages.
We call him “Lord”. We know that he is powerful, therefore we ask him the graces we need. We are truly celebrating him only by renew our trustful abandonment in his hands.
Yesterday, the Pope had to rush back to Manila before the coming storm would struck Samar Island. He said to the religious gathered in the Cathedral of Tacloban that he was sorry because he had prepared to stay with them up to 5 pm, yet he had to put everything he had prepared in the hands of the Lord.
We are not the Lords of our lives. The Pope came with the main intent of visiting Tacloban and he could stay there only a very limited time. This confirms his words that only Jesus is the Lord.
Only this unconditional trust in him can recompose the divisions among Christians. I suggest that you read again during this week the magistral conference of M. Cristiana on spiritual ecumenism. Only prayer and sacrifice can bring back reconciliation because the Lord alone can touch our proud hearts and makes us humble.
During this week we will reflect on Chapter 4 of the gospel of St. John which refers of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman. The Samaritan woman is the symbol of the unfaithful bride Israel who is saved and brought back by her faithful husband, the Lord. In the Bible, all the encounters at the well already speak of nuptial love. Let’s think of Rebecca and Rachel, the legitimate brides who will perpetuate the promise of descendants in Israel. Yet, because of her idolatry, the adulterous bride had been rejected and was in need of redemption. The true Bridegroom alone could save her.
The Church too can become adulterous out of her many sins.Yet the Lord is always her Savior, because he has definitively won over sin and death. He always brings us back to the true place of worship, to our original vocation of being in laudem gloriae, in praise of the glory of God in truth and freedom (First reading of today’s Mass).
During this week let’s take the trouble to worship in a more dignifying way by giving all we are to the Lord in truth so that our voices and bodies can be the expression of our spirits. Everyone’s vocation is that of becoming “praises to the glory of God”.
Cistercian mysticism is impregnated with imagery coming from the liturgy because there the Word of God is again alive and active. Let’s take the trouble of preparing oneself to this sublime prayer that allows us to be transported in the heavenly Jerusalem were the worship in spirit and truth is continually celebrated.
Only those who love will have a free personality and those who love are gratuitous and confident. They can give themselves without hesitation because they do not want any recompense, they just want to love and those who love sing, as all those who are in paradise do.
They sing to the Lord because he is Lord. “I can assure you Jesus is the Lord and he never lets us down.”
The second reflection was forwarded to me by Gabriel and is available at this link: