Manila (AsiaNews) - Tears and sobs did not allow her to finish her testimony before Pope Francis. But the small Jun, a teenage girl who overcame drug addiction and prostitution, was the focus of the meeting that the pontiff had this morning with the young people in the sports field at the Saint Thomas University in Manila. Francis put aside his prepared speech and talked for over half an hour off the cuff in Spanish, with assistance from his "good translator", Fr. Mark Miles, who accompanied him during his visit to the Philippines.
After thanking Jun for speaking "so courageously" of her experience he added: " the heart of your question has no reply. Only when we too can cry about the things you said can we come close to answering that question. Why do children suffer so much? Why do children suffer? When the heart is able to ask itself and weep, then we can understand something.
Why do children suffer? When the heart is able to ask itself and weep, then we can understand something There is a worldly compassion which is useless. You expressed something like this. 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. Dear young boys and girls, today's world doesn't know how to cry...
Certain realities of life we only see through eyes cleansed by our tears.
I invite each one here to ask yourself: have I learned how to weep? This is the first thing I want to say: let us learn how to weep as she has shown us today and let us not forget this lesson..... If you don't learn how to cry, you cannot be a good Christian. "
The presence of Jun, the only girl among the four witnesses, forced the Pope to emphasize the value of women in society: "There's only a very small representation of girls among you. Too little. Women have much to tell us in today's society. Sometimes we are too sexist and we don't allow enough space to women. But women can see things from a different angle to us, with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions we men are unable to understand. Look out for this fact: she is the only one who has put a question for which there is no answer. She couldn't put it into words but expressed it with tears.
So when the next pope comes to Manila, please let there be more girls.
The meeting with the more than 30 thousand young, happy and energetic people in the rain and the wind, started at 10:30 am. Earlier a group of boys and girls carried in procession the image of a bleeding crucified Christ and "enthroned" it on the stage. The pope bowed and kissed the feet of the statue, then listened to the various testimonies: that of Jun and ... (Glisel?), two former street children, now in a foster home; Leandro, who spoke about the world of information; Rikki, an engineer who works to help the people affected by Typhoon Yolanda-Haiyan, along with his friends by inventing a lighting system made with plastic bottles and very cheap components, to bring light into the homes of the survivors.
Taking the floor and asking to speak in Spanish with a translation, Francis began by noting the voluntary from Catholic Relief Services, Kristel who died yesterday in Tacloban, hit by a falling beam because of the high wind, right at the beginning of the Mass. The Pope called for a minute of silence and then sang a Hail Mary for the young woman and an Our Father for parents.
Answering the question of Leandro on information technology, the pontiff said: " Today, with so many means of communication we are overloaded with information. Is that bad? No. It is good and can help. But there is a real danger of living in a way that we accumulate information. We have so much information but maybe we don't know what to do with that information. So we run the risk of becoming museums of young people who have everything but not knowing what to do with it. What is the most important subject you have to lean at university? What is most important subject you have to learn in life? To learn how to love. This is the challenge that life offers you: to learn bow to love. Not just to accumulate information without knowing what to do with it.. But through that love let that information bear fruit". And he invited the young people to live "harmoniously" thinking, feeling and acting, making them repeat the sentence twice: "To think, feel, act."
The pope also warned against a " computer psychology", in which there is "surprise".
"True love - he said - is to love and be loved. It is much harder to be loved .... We could love God, but it is more difficult to be loved by God, opening up to His surprise. Love always presupposes a surprise to love and be loved. and God is waiting with a surprise, He surprises us because he loved us first. We must allow ourselves to be surprised by God.
Let us not have a computer psychology that makes us think we know it all. All answers on computers - but no surprises. The challenge of love. God reveals himself through surprises".
The invitation to surprise and the invitation to follow Jesus in a radical way, with the example of St. Matthew. The pontiff recalled the context of the calling of Matthew, painted by Caravaggio. "In the picture there is one that says: Him? He betrayed us! He hoards money!" But the surprise of being loved overcomes him".
"Allow yourselves to be surprised by God. Think of St Francis who died with empty hands and empty pockets but with a full heart. Remember: no young museums, and wise young people. To be wise use three languages: think well, feel well and do well. And to be wise allow yourselves to be surprised by the love of God".
A final point was addressed to Rikki, the inventor. Francis praises his commitment and that of his friends, but adds: "One thing you lack" (cfr. Mark 10.16 to 30).
"As young people like you ... are capable of giving, but not receive? I tell you one thing: become beggars. This is what you are missing. It is not easy to understand: learn to beg; learn to get by the humility of those we help. Learning to be evangelized by the poor. poor, sick, orphaned, have a lot to give us. "
"How many young people among you like this... know how to give and yet you have ever learned how to receive. You still lack one thing. Become a beggar. This isn't easy to understand. To learn how to beg. To learn how to receive with humility. Let yourselves be evangelised by those you serve, the poor. The poor, sick, orphaned, have a lot to give us. "
Towards the end of his dialogue, the Pope returned to his prepared speech, recalling the ecological challenge, which is very urgent in the Philippines, but then concluded: " Sorry if I haven't read what I prepared for you but there is a phrase that consoles me: that reality is superior to ideas. The reality that you have is superior to the paper I have in front of me".