“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” – Matthew 3:11

WITH ONLY a few days left before the papal visit, could we really say that we are prepared?

When it was confirmed last Nov. 12 that Pope Francis would visit our country, people were all ears on the preparations. The announcement triggered hope and excitement.

We have since been preparing to welcome the Pope.

The busy atmosphere can be felt all over the country. However, we have to be reminded that this isn’t a new episode in our lives. In the past, we already had the opportunity to be graced by two other popes and had exhibited the same anticipation.

With almost a year of planning, is it enough to say that we are ready?

Day by day, I find it part of my routine to check on news updates on the papal visit. While progress is of no question, I am still faced with the thought on how it will boost the spirituality of the people after the Pope has returned to Rome.

Writer Lourd Ernest de Veyra, in his spot.ph blog, published an open letter to the Pope last October 31, citing stories of “Yolanda victims” and warning him of people who were bound to do everything to get “a piece of him.”

De Veyra stressed on the Filipino trait of “showing visitors their best side.” This can be observed today, as most of us are heavily focused on making the visit memorable. With lack of time for personal reflection, we might as well forget the underlying message of the papal visit.

The Pope is the Vicar of Christ, and Jesus is the true “star” of the papal visit. The Holy Father is coming to us with a prophetic mission—to bring Christ and spread His message of “mercy and compassion.”

Surprisingly, I found someone who shared the better half of my sentiments. I had the chance to read about Michaelangelo Lobrin, an author and inspirational speaker, who believes that the spiritual visit is rendered worthless “once the Pope comes and [we] do not see Jesus in him.”

The season of holidays was a turning point for me as it gave me the time and space to ponder on many matters–one of them being the upcoming visit.

School was bound to start in two weeks, and it made me remember that part of the Pope’s itinerary was to visit the University for the meeting with inter-religious leaders and the youth encounter.

Even family talks couldn’t get away with the nearing papal visit. When the subject was brought over to the table, my family would say the same thing to me over and over again: “Consider yourself a very lucky man.”

But with luck out of the picture, the question always surfaces if I have done my part in preparing for thePope’s visit.

The papal visit in itself is a candle–with a wick waiting to be ignited. What purpose will a heaven-sent candle serve when people forget to light it up in the first place?

We may have the “stage” adorned for the Pontiff’s arrival, but also have an audience hollow of spirit.

It came to my understanding that underneath the spiritual shroud of the event is an opportunity to live out the true message of God.

The papal visit is another chance, if not the start, forrenewal of faith.

It is a call to arms, a break in life’s repetitive flow where we can implore God again. Nonetheless, it is only after the Pontiff’s visit where we begin to see the changes in faith that we have always longed to see. Jose Brian M. Ramil


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