The pastoral visit of Pope Francis to our country is indeed a blessing – a once in a blue moon opportunity especially for those who cannot afford to go and visit the Vatican City in Rome. I wonder who are those who will have the chance to get closer to the Pope and those who will be relegated to the sidelines. My only prayer is that after his visit there will be no story of people being given the special privilege due to Connection, Hype, Influence, Lobbying and Donation because to some extent this is blatant disregard to what Pope Francis wants as well as a betrayal to the theme of his visit, compassion and mercy.
The gesture of Pope Francis to be closer to people especially the poor is driven by his ability to see Christ among the least, last and lost. It is not an opportunity for Pope Francis to mingle with the ordinary people. It is rather a privilege for Pope Francis to celebrate with his flock as a shepherd, Christian faith-life together with the faithful amidst the struggles to living life lovingly and finding faith fraternally. Such an encounter is ministry in reserve – the condition of the faithful becomes the source of inspiration to the pope in exercising his office as servant-shepherd-steward.
Pope Francis is humbly and seriously taking his office as both an encounter and communion with God. Most often than not, positions of authority and function alienates the person holding it in name of protection and security and sometimes ending up as prisoner of it. That is why Jesus wanted people including children to have access to him and would like to teach his disciples to learn a lesson and all of us – our role is to help the people become closer to Christ than to us, including the Pope himself.
The powerful words of Jesus, “Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mk. 10:15). Again, Jesus is making use of contrasting images to lead people to understand his point. The image of the kingdom connotes power and prestige. The child on the other hand, represents the inferior and insignificant. Jesus did so to convey his message that the basis to enter God’s kingdom is to be childlike which to me is a call and a challenge to be Compassionate, Humble, Inclusive, Loving and Dependent on God’s grace.
The child Jesus brought light into the world through his birth. May we also try to give birth to a CHILD-friendly environment in our parish and nurture it through sharing the light that Jesus brings in our homes and workplaces.