After watching Pope Francis’ speech in his encounter with the youth, I am even more amazed and inspired with his words and ideas. I hope the message is not trivialized or watered down because the message is actually a very strong criticism and challenge for many of us young students.
He did not speak simply of the love we are so used to. He was speaking of the love of Christ, through others, especially the poor. That is why he extolled that we have to “learn how to love and be loved”! Because we don’t! He even said it is the “most important subject we have to learn in a university” which is a strong criticism of how our universities are run. We are not being taught how to love others with true compassion. The focus has always been on becoming employable professionals for a ‘globalised’ future. We have lost our sense of community and compassion with society!
When he told us that we have to learn to cry, certainly hindi niya tayo sinasabihang maging iyakin. It is not an affirmation of young people’s propensity to cry when they are heartbroken. NO! It was his way of emphasizing his message of compassion, of feeling and suffering with the poor and the abused. We do not weep with the oppressed and the abused because we do not feel their suffering. That is what the Pope meant when we have to learn how to weep!
He actually criticized how many of us practice our brand of “compassion” through charity. The Pope said “It’s a compassion that makes us put our hands in our pockets and give something to the poor. But if Christ had had that kind of compassion he would have greeted a couple of people, given them something, and walked on. But it was only when he was able to cry that he understood something of our lives.” Hindi sapat na ‘tumutulong’ o nagbibigay lang tayo sa mga inaapi. We have to learn how to “cry” with them.
He actually criticized many young people with his words. He responded to “Ricky” after he narrated how he helped the poor with his project. Thank you Ricky, the Pope said, but he asked him “You give and give help but do you know how to receive?” The camera didn’t show it but Ricky probably answered yes to the Pope but the Pope gestured to Ricky not so say it but “answer in your heart.” Because the Pope knew that many young people today don’t know how to receive because we think we “need nothing” and that we are “self-sufficient”. He kept repeating these words throughout his speech.
Young students today are so used to occasional charity works and relief operations, which makes us feel good for helping others. But the Pope asked us, “Do you ask the poor to give you the wisdom they have?” The Pope emphasized this when he repeatedly told us the we “lack one thing” and that we have to “learn how to beg” and “become a beggar”. We keep giving and yet we do not “let ourselves be evangelized by those [we] serve”. It is so often that I see and hear too many young students with matapobre comments against the poor, na que sa tamad, na que sa puro bisyo, na que sa anak nang anak. But the Pope now challenged us, “Do you let yourselves be evangelized by those you serve? This is what helps you mature in your commitment to give to others. Learn how to open your hand from your very own poverty.”
Let us go to the ‘peripheries’! Let’s learn from the plight of the marginalized and the oppressed. “Let us open our eyes, hearts, and minds to the corruption, social inequality, and the evil reigning in our society — and let us collectively and actively struggle against the system that perpetuates this.”