Pope Fever Lingers

It has been a week since Pope Francis arrived Thursday of last week for his 5-day pastoral visit to the country, but it seems the mania refuses to die down.

At least, not yet.

Even as he has settled back home in Rome, Pope stories, whether about close encounters or quotes, continue to pour in across social media especially on the ubiquitous Facebook. Just what is this electrifying effect that continue to sweep us away?

Pope Francis waves to crowd

I, for one, never quite understood the frenzy we were caught in, as much as I do now. I may have missed the opportunity of having met Pope Francis for the first time, but I have had the privilege of having seen his predecessor, Pope Benedict, up close in Sydney during the 2008 World Youth Day. It was definitely an experience of a lifetime. And yes, I cried buckets.

I tell you, the Pope effect whether seeing him personally or on television, is the same. One gets emotional to the point of crying unabashedly and losing composure, as a result. And why exactly is that? Why does one seem to automatically tear up upon catching sight of The Pontiff? Or does it have something to do with our being Pinoy? These are the very questions that I have repeatedly asked myself over the five days that Pope Francis was here. It has created in me a moment to pause while trying to look for some answers.

Upon close introspection, a couple of realizations hit me – maybe it was our unconscious way of expressing our own personal catharsis. But then again, maybe it has also a lot to do with our being wounded. We all are, in one way or another. Our experience of suffering, in whatever form, has created in us, this inner longing for a renewed sense of hope that can mend our broken spirit and for someone who can help free us from the yoke that we bear everyday. Someone much like Jesus. And who could that person be other than the Vicar of Christ himself.

Pope Francis, who, despite his stature of being the successor of Peter and supreme Shepherd of the universal Church, is the same person who bowled us over with his downright simplicity, humility and acts of mercy. And like sweet elixir that has soothed our brokenness, his homilies and speeches over the course of his visit, have profoundly touched us, even the non-Catholics.

Pope Francis hugs children

You see, on a larger note, with all the controversies and problems the country is facing now, it is good to have seen, heard and felt the Pope’s presence. But I do hope it doesn’t just end there. Like a true shepherd guiding his flock, may we never forget his gentle prodding to reach out to the peripheries and cry a good tear. To evangelize and to respond to suffering like a lamb that is brought to the slaughter that just sheds tears.

Long after Pope Francis has come and gone, now, it’s all up to us to keep the fever burning.

Photos: Gil Nartea/Malacanang Photo Bureau