It was the warmest reception ever. The moment the Sri-Lanka plane touched down at Villamor Air Base, I got goosebumps – the shouts of joy, the simultaneous pealing of the bells in all Catholic churches throughout the land, the anticipation of seeing the Pope finally landing on our shores. What a blessing! And when he showed his face at the window of the plane, everything seemed so surreal.
And he seemed excited too to disembark from the plane and greet the people waiting there. That warm smile, the genuine look of joy on his face, so priceless.
He tried to hold on to his skullcap as he disembark but the wind was just too strong, it was blown away from his head. His cape blew over his head as soon as he stepped down from the plane.
Such overwhelming, overflowing and indescribable joy seeing him finally even just in front of the TV. He waved his hand to bless the crowd and everyone cheered. I just kept shouting, “Thank You Lord, you brought Pope Francis to us”. The motorcade from Villamor Air Base to the Apostolic Nunciature took about 37 minutes, it was so touching to see large crowds lining up the roads. God’s presence is fully alive in our hearts as we see His shepherd in our midst. I pray that somehow his visit would inspire us more, enliven our faith, see God in the faces of those who are in need and who have less in life. I hope his visit would teach us the full meaning of mercy and compassion. Mainly, he is here to give hope to those survivors of Yolanda who lost their loved ones, lost their properties and need encouraging words that life has to go on. Hope is not lost to those who believe. Hope is not lost to those whose faith remains unshakeable despite all the vicissitudes in life. Hope is not lost to those who believe that God is present in their lives.
He boarded an open-air pope mobile with two religious leaders. That’s Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on the lower right. Can’t wait to see him make a courtesy call to Malacanang Palace this morning, have a mass with bishops and cardinals at the Manila Cathedral at noon and meet with religious families at the Mall of Asia arena later in the evening.
Viva Il Papa!
(Photo credits: various sites culled from the net – EPA, AFP,Reuters etc).