Friday, January 23, 2015

Lessons from Pope Francis' Visit - Charity

Pope Francis on his recent visit to Palo, Leyte with the victims of Typhoon Yolanda
Charity. When we hear this word, we usually connote it with monetary donations; giving a donation in money or in kind to the less fortunate or one who is in need.  But whenever I saw Pope Francis on his pope-mobile or as he walked through the crowds, this word is what came up in my mind as one adjective that best described his actions.  He gave no money or any material possession, but gave of himself – his smile, his wave, a hug, a pat on the head, a word or two of fatherly advice, a sympathetic ear, a listening heart, his blessings, his time - his presence.  We witnessed how he gave of himself as best as he could to as many people as it was possible for his 78 year old body.  Charity – a virtue defined in Merriam Webster’s dictionary as the “benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity”.  This is what Pope Francis had, a charitable heart and soul for all of humanity.

Last December we saw a celebrity/TV host in the park where we were having a get-together with school friends.  We waited patiently hoping to get a selfie/groupie with him.  To our dismay though he took no notice of us and after his taping, took a quick exit that he and his crew plotted as part of their taping.  I’ve tried to understand that this celebrity wanted to finish their shooting and taking pictures with fans would be a waste of their valuable time.  It is unfair too to compare him to the Pope.  But I do hope that celebrities/actors/actresses, do show more charity to those who admire and support them by watching their shows.  Is it too much to ask for a few minutes of their time, if in exchange it would bring a smile to someone’s face?  But like I said it is totally unfair to judge and compare. 

I have been conscious since the Pope's visit of the times when I am too busy to notice those around me, especially those who rely on me like my children and husband.  My children's needs should not be too demanding and nothing should be more important than to give them my love. "Huggie" is something that they ask for countless times in a day.  Sometimes when I'm in the midst of some chore, I take no notice of their pleads to just be hugged.  But sometimes when I do and they know that I'm busy, they say "Ok" and push me as if to say "Okay, I've had my share of hugs, you can now go do what you need to do."  "Story" is something that my daughter asks of me so she can drift off to sleep.  But at times especially after a tiring day, I tell her I'm too tired and try to talk her out of it.  And then I'm reminded that her request is simple and try harder to give in and start narrating a story from my mind.

The janitors, the guards, the helpers around and inside SM Mall of Asia, Pope Francis treated as if they were the VIPs.  To the smallest in the crowds, the babies and young children, they were truly blessed to have the Pope stop his entourage, to bend down and kiss.  To the sick, the outcast, those who have some sort of disease that most of us would do our best to avoid, the Pope openly hugs and caresses  “as if it was the most natural thing to do”, former Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican, Henrietta de Villa, said in an interview as she witnessed the Pope kissing a man covered with boils.
Pope Francis visiting the orphans in his recent visit.
Picture c/o
I do hope that even a small part of Pope Francis’ charitable spirit rubs on us.  To take notice of those people who in the world’s eyes are nobodies, but to God’s and to Pope Francis’ eyes are somebodies, worthy of attention and precious in His eyes. 

Thank you, Pope Francis for your example of how we should walk in Jesus’ steps, to follow Jesus’ example of being charitable to others, to give love to all of humanity.


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