Thursday, August 1, 2013

From Rio to Krakov


The first international pilgrimage of Pope Francis has just ended. And for the great crowds and feed backs received from everywhere, we may say that he did wonderful! Pope Francis was able to attract a great multitude, old stories mixed with great news, smiles, laughter and all with that Portuguese accent called in Spanish, the “portuñol”  

The carioca people have proved to the world, that even though being very unorganized, they were able to manage without any big problems a huge multitude of people that have over passed 3 million visitors coming as far as Iraq, Lebanon , Palestine and even Australia, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. 

All daily events were supposed to take place in Curitiba, and of course all facilities for this great event had been prepared with months in advance. However, due to a three day storm right before the inauguration, Curitibia was totally destroyed and all become mud and water. The Brazilians feeling hopeless and seeing it impossible to fix, they quickly reacted and remembered Copacabana Beach; where carioca’s life style, dance, joy and luxurious entertainment is well known by the tourist visiting Brazil. So, in about 72 hours of hard work, the beach was transformed into a huge temple, music and place for reflection. It was the Carnival of Faith, rejoice and sharing Christ love.

And, what did Francis do or say? Nothing new that we have already know; but this time in different way, different approach since he was talking to a younger crowd. 

Whenever we had listened to Benedict XVI, he inspired us respect for his wisdom as a person and he preached the Gospel that we did not understand or we have not wanted to comprehend. Now, His wonderful teachings will always remain on library books accumulating dust on its shelves. 

This time, when Pope Francis has spoken, he delivered the same message, but used a different tone, different attitude. Francis spoke the language that everybody understands. Pope Francis seems more human, likes to be among the people as one of us, he left out his title of High Pontiff   and became a humble pastor, near his people, and even laughing at his own jokes. He spoke the town’s language, mingling with them on bus, subways, hospitals and jails.  

If we read his homilies and speeches, Francis is quoting the most important document from Vatican II: PASTORAL CONSTITUTION ON THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD, which starts as: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts” Francis has presented it with different words, but at the end nothing new. 

When he met the Argentinean Young people, he clearly told them:  “Read Matthew Chapter 25, which is the standard by which we will be judged. With these two things you have the action plan: the Beatitudes and Matthew 25. You do not need to read anything else. I ask you this with all my heart”.

In other words, be missionaries of peace and justice; keep the light of Christ always on, for this way you will be able to see the needs of your brother, who may be hungry, thirsty, is an immigrant, in jail, sick and nobody cares about him. And in order to do all these, we have to use our talents and skills that we all have received from God, “and don’t be afraid to be trouble makers”

Francis has come to the end of the world, the same place where the cardinals went to get him before elected Pope, and reminded the youth in Rio that is time to wake up. The challenge is great but at the same time, very exciting. The next time when he will meet the World Youth will be in Krakow, the old Europe. There is going to be more difficult, since Europe is a continent of elderly people who have stopped believing. But…as the song says: “Wanderer, there is not path. We make the path by walking.

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