The Gospel Today
Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent
he did not wish to travel in Judea,
because the Jews were trying to kill him.
But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.
But when his brothers had gone up to the feast,
he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret.
Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said,
“Is he not the one they are trying to kill?
And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him.
Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ?
But we know where he is from.
When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”
So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said,
“You know me and also know where I am from.
Yet I did not come on my own,
but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.
I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
So they tried to arrest him,
but no one laid a hand upon him,
because his hour had not yet come.
Everyone was so blissful during the Papal and State Visit in the country. We all wanted to see the Holy Father in person. For others, they were blessed enough to touch Pope Francis either by handshake or through his blessing. It was a different story for me. I wanted to experience the same since I was not able to have a close encounter during the World Youth Day decades ago. I was more than a hundred miles away from Manila. All I did was watch the event in the television. Even in such a state of being far off, I still felt St. Pope John Paul II’s charisma as if I was touched by the Spirit.
I ensured myself this time that with Pope Francis’ visit, I might have a chance to encounter him because we might be rendering our assistance in either the Manila Cathedral or at the Luneta Park Eucharistic Celebration. To my dismay though, it was only less than a week before his arrival when we got our task. It would be guarding the tents for the Holy Eucharist intended for the communion during the mass in Luneta Park. There was a possibility for me in seeing the Pope by going near the park boundaries along the roads. More so, the chance of seeing him got better because our duty was to safeguard the tents and the materials during the night and turn it over the seminarians-in-charge as well as the nuns assigned come six in the morning. I had not slept and I was alarmed with the series of events after. Morning came and there was no sign of relief from the delegated seminarians. A sea of people came rushing early and in a little while the whole park was so crowded and a bottleneck in the passageways evolved near us. People could not move. They could not breathe while some were trying to go back but were all stuck. My companions were the Lay ministers and youth volunteers from various parishes. There might be hundreds of them but there were hundreds of thousands, even millions passing by our way that we had to protect the tent. They were looking for a leader and all of a sudden, hundreds of eyes were looking at me and they told me to direct them. I stepped up and even with the heavy downpour, we formed human barricades for hours and took turns. A near stampede was diffused when we opened another park gate. We helped those who got sick, suffocated, the disabled, the children, and the old. Our place was transformed beyond the Eucharist tent but also as a first-aid center.
It was near noon when the seminarians came. I was relieved, I thought I could rest and see the Pope but they asked me to brief them and help them out organizing and planning what to do next. I helped. I was busy dispersing the Blessed Host when the Pope passed but still I felt his presence. I had goose-bumps.
I felt accomplished and happy even if I was not able to have a glimpse of the Pope. I was with Jesus through the Blessed Eucharist and prepared things for the communion. After the mass and when it was time for me to leave, people praised me as a true leader and the ministers, our radiowoman, health aid, mother butlers, and youth volunteers congratulated me and had pictures with them. With the entire ordeal we had the whole period; we seemed to have established unity, service, love, and compassion.
I knew all those things came from God. As Jesus, said in the Gospel, “I know him because I am from him, and he sent me.” I was called to serve that day. I was sent by Him for the task that would go beyond what I thought I could offer and accomplish.