One, Two, Three of a Four-ever Greatful heart
As I ride the plane going back to Manila, I was looking back on the things that happened to me on the past last three weeks in Europe. There is so much to say, I want to share a lot of things but I don’t know where to start. It’s as if every moment is a moment that you want to share to the world but let me start off with these things that makes my World Youth Day memorable.
Let me share to you my one, two, three:
The One-derful Language of Love
One of my favorite moment is to be able to be part of a family from the host country.
They welcomed us into their house and treated us like families. They did not only open their homes but their hearts as well. They sacrificed their mornings to be able to make sure that we are well fed before we leave and they wait for us in the evening to make sure that we get replenished after a long and tiring walks under the sun. Free times were spent being able to get to know each other. I enjoyed being able to get to know them, know the similarities and differences of both our countries. Their house became our home away from home.
As I walk by the street of Poland, I was able to meet people from different races, of different colors, of different languages. I don’t know them but when you meet each other, you greet them, you chant with them, play games with them, dance with them and pray with them as if that we know each other. There is a kind of openness to each other that I can’t explain. There is a special kind of bond that I know that connects us and it doesn’t matter that we don’t know each other because we know that what I carry inside my heart is the same thing that the other person is carrying inside their hearts – Love; whose name is Jesus Christ.
By His sacrifice, Christ that binds us together lets us see others as brothers and sisters. I am privileged to see and be amazed once again in the World Youth Day to be able to see people gathered together to celebrate the One-derful love given to us by God freely. A joyous celebration to share the love of Christ to all people that you meet, regardless of who they are and from where they came from.
Two-gether with the Saints
Two great Saints were highlighted during the World Youth Day, Saint Faustina and Saint John Paul II. Never in my wildest dreams that I thought that I would have a chance to be see where they have lived and how did they live their lives. In being able to see personally where they lived and got a glimpse of how they were able to live their lives, I was able to see the trials and hardships that they went through and how by the grace of God, they were able to overcome it. It was so surreal to see it up close.
I realized how their love for Christ, they were able to do great things, not for themselves but for the whole world. In allowing themselves to be messengers of the good news, they were able to touch other people’s lives and lead them back to Christ.
For the longest time, I have admired these two great saints. It is through these great saints that I was reminded that holiness is possible and attainable. When things are not going well, I look at their images and say that “It can be done”. When I am tired to give love, I was reminded by Sister Faustina to be the face of Love. In one of her diary, she says, “Love does not consist in words or feelings, but in deeds.” Not maybe in the whole wide world, at that moment, but in the world that I am at that very present, the people around me. When we get into situations where you have to choose on what to do, you always choose to love and give love.
Also, I would remind myself of what Pope John Paul II did when I want to start to complain in the struggle of the long walks that we have. I try to remember as they were struggling to walk to go to a safe place while at war, I know that he was also tired but he put first those people he thinks needs his help more. More than his own situation, he helped others in need. By his example, I am reminded that I, too, must encompass what I feel and be more sensitive to the needs of others, rather than mine.
At the end of the Vigil Mass, we were taking group pictures of people according as to how many times we have attended the WYD already. Those 1st timers were called Quali-One, to the second timers, they are called Quali-Two and then us who were able to go three times already, the Quali-Three (Quality).
It made me reminisce my past WYD journeys. In 2011, I remembered my first World Youth Day in Madrid. I was a new Full Time Worker, excited to be in a new place and to have new experiences, I am excited to see the Pope Benedict! And I did! I was super ecstatic! Then 2013 came and the opportunity opened once again to be able to go, this time in Brazil. I am excited once again of the new place and the experiences, I am also excited that this is the first time to see Pope Francis. And I did again! I am in awe! And then last year, WYD 2016 was announced, I was would admit that there is a part of me that wants to go but there is this other part of me that doesn’t want to go anymore. I said to myself thinking that two is enough already. I wanted to give others a chance to see Pope Francis up close as I was able to see him already in Brazil and here in the Philippines. There is also this part of me that is afraid to assist the subgroup as I am not sure if by that time I am fully recovered from my injury. But in my prayers, I felt that God was telling me to go again. He said for me to meet Him there. Next thing I know, I found myself saying yes again.
I thought that it would just be the same as I did it twice already. But am I wrong! I realized that each moment is a different experience. You can never really compare one over the other. I remember one of us shared that when he was in Madrid, He met a Spanish Jesus; when he was in Rio, he met a Brazilian Jesus and now, in Krakow, he met a Pole Jesus. These made me get on the right track, I was reminded once again of why I am going, why I want to go in the first place. I did not go because of just the place or the experience and nor the Pope, but I want there to see Jesus! The Quali-Three is not only the times that you went there but the moments that you meet Jesus – a Quality Experience!
With all of the three things that I experienced last World Youth Day, I realized that my heart is Four-ever grateful of these experiences.
“In silence, let us remember this encounter, let us preserve the memory of the presence of God and his word, and let us listen once more to the voice of Jesus as he calls us by name. So let us now pray silently, remembering and thanking the Lord wanted us to be here and has come here to meet us..”
-Pope Francis, WYD Closing Mass
These are the final words that Pope Francis said in his homily about the story of Zacchaeus. Going to the World Youth Day, one of my prayers is for Him to meet me in Poland. That amidst all the hustle and bustle that we are going to do in Poland, may I not miss the point of why I am there – to encounter Him. With so many things that is happening, it was hard to hear him clearly but then on the closing mass, I heard him talk to me clearly through the story of Zacchaeus.
It transported me back 5 years ago when He called me to follow him. I was anxious, unsure, and afraid at that time. I asked God to speak to me on what I have to do next and God led me to the story of Zacchaeus. I can still recall the homily of the priest giving the homily to a room full of people, but just like Zacchaeus, I felt Jesus looking at me straight in my eyes and told me that He would want to stay in my house – in my heart.. in my life.. in everything that I am. That was the day that I fully embraced my Yes to be a missionary. And God reminded me this on the 31st of July 2016, a day before my 5th year anniversary as a Missionary, me that He still choses me. He wanted me to be here, he wanted to meet me, a sinner – and chose me.
I was, also, reminded of that day where I presented myself and said to God that, all that I have and all that I am is His. My heart is forever grateful for His love that looked upon me so much compassion. and allowed me to experience a life that I can never exchange with anything else.
I thank God for meeting me in Poland, my heart would be four-ever grateful for meeting me in Poland. And as I go back to Manila, my prayer is that may I forever keep in my heart the learnings, messages and experiences that I had may not be a distant memory but a fire that would constantly propel me towards God. And as I journey towards Jesus, may I also be constantly reminded to also accompany the people I meet along the way.