Everyone has their own story about how Pope Francis has moved them this weekend. For me this was when I heard what Pope Francis said to Iris Palomar, one of the street children at UST. In tears she asked the pope, “Why is God allowing bad things to happen, even if it is not the fault of children? Why are there so few people helping us?” Iris and many street children suffer from drugs, sexual abuse, hunger, prostitution, theft – numerous and daily injustices.
Pope Francis had no words to say, and the only answer he could give was a compassionate embrace for a child who had suffered so much. Then he told everyone gathered that “Only when we too can cry about the things you said can we come close to answering that question: why do children suffer so much?” Today’s world doesn’t know how to cry.
“If you don’t learn to cry”, the Pope said, “you cannot be a good Christian… Be courageous: don’t be afraid to cry.”
Tears will not remove world hunger. Tears will not protect children from abuse. But tears will let us suffer with them. To feel what they feel – in a mysterious but also real way.
On his flight back, Pope Francis recalled an ancient prayer begging the Lord for the grace of tears. And so we can pray with Pope Francis, “Lord, you who have made it so that Moses with his cane could make water flow from a stone, make it so that from the rock that is my heart, the water of tears may flow.”
Photos by Rocky Chan, Crissy Castillo, Shelli Manuel-Tomacruz,
Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ.