The Papal Visit to the Philippines is over and we are back to normal. For days, people practically from all walks of life, non-Catholics included, had a very wonderful experience of being blessed by God and momentarily feel moments of holiness. But how can we sustain the lessons we get from this historic and memorable faith experience as a nation?
The Philippines once again caught global attention. Images of Filipinos braving Typhoon Amang’s (Yuto) Signal Number 2 strength captured the attention of the world. The word “Amang”, by the way, in Tagalog means “Male Child”. But to Ilocanos, though in different enunciation, “Amang” means “Father”. Coincidentally, Pope Francis said his Culminating Mass in celebration of the Holy Child Sunday at the Luneta. Sto. Niño for Filipinos is truly a Child and a Father (read: Lord)!
Many of well-to-do individuals and central figures of faith from my place went to Manila and wear ponchos all the way to meet the Pope. Of all people, our bishop was not there to meet the Holy Father. I do not know why our priests left their local ordinary behind while the momentous event is unfolding.
Pope Francis’ visit has ended and the disposable ponchos have dried (I am sure that the disposable yellow ponchos were not disposed for it would serve as a symbolic souvenir from the event). We are again back in being a worldly man like Pontius Pilate. We are returning to our normal ways of yielding easily to pressure from those people who are superior to us in many aspects and social structures that are making us hostage of. The systemic corruption, the dangers of the electronic media, the subtle attacks on the family, the prevailing social ills, subhuman conditions, moral decadence and yes, environmental degradation are still a reality. Like Pontius Pilate, we surely again easily give way to something that we do not like when our position and comfort, life and limbs are at stake or threatened.
Pilates we all are in this sense.
In Tacloban, the Holy Pontiff, perhaps, had his first experience of saying the Holy Mass in the middle of the storm and driving rain which is held in an open space. What a wonderful symbol of solidarity with the agony of the victims and survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) right there at the middle of ground zero. This would bring us to the issue of climate change and ecological challenge, its causes and the impending disaster that it would bring.
By way of a joke, Pope Francis asked two requests from his audience at Palo Cathedral the other day: “First, pray for me, and second, be silent.” People in my place are praying for the Pope, no doubt, but amid threats of all those structural problems, many men and women of faith, both the clergy and laypeople, fell silent. Perhaps, like Pilate, we are afraid of pressures coming from those who make this evil structure continue to exist. These are the pressing problems of the poor in our midst that many of us Catholics do not seem to care or understand.
As such, we are but a collage of photos of Poncho-ed Pilates….