|Azrael Coladilla/Azrael's Merryland|
Even prior to his visit here in the Philippines, one thing I noticed about my friends, who are mostly from the Protestant movements like me, as per their social media posts is that they like Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio also known as Pope Francis. I wonder why. It turned out, they are not the only ones who like the pope.
Even non-Catholics all over the world can attest that Pope Francis is a likable church leader. According to Wikipedia, many Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish, and even Islamic communities and even some atheists welcomed his papacy.
For a sportswriter like me, I focused too much on the results, the latest news, and the latest trade rumors that I, despite reading the Scriptures and at times posting and reposting verses on social media, rarely read news from the Catholic church. Probably, the fact that I'm from the Born-Again Christian community adds to the reasons. But after reading a transcript of Pope Francis' message, I begin to appreciate him more.
He started his sermon earlier at the Manila Cathedral with a very important word from Jesus Christ: “Do you love me?… Tend my sheep. (John 21:15-17)”. He continued, "I ask you to share the joy and enthusiasm of your love for Christ and the Church with everyone, but especially with your peers. Be present to young people who may be confused and despondent, yet continue to see the Church as their friend on the journey and a source of hope." He also quoted 2 Corinthians 5:15 saying, "Christ died for all so that, having died in Him, we might live no longer for ourselves but for Him." Simply put, Pope Francis is telling every Christian, regardless of his denomination, to go back to the basics.
In this time where some debate religious groups have turned into something personal and with all the issues concerning the Christian world, Pope Francis is reminding us that we should remember our first love, which is remembering and honoring God and spreading the Gospel as what He commanded. As what the Apostle John told the Ephesian church, "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. (Revelation 2:5a)"
I now understand why Pope Francis is loved by even the other religious communities. It may just be some of what he said, but he knows what every Christian needs now. He really is a champion of faith. To further prove that, a meme I saw bore another important words from him as the caption: "Do not hide your faith. Do not hide Jesus."
The full transcript of his message at the Manila Cathedral can be seen here.