The Pontiff and a Multitude of Raincoats

This is the first thing I want to say: let us learn how to weep…”

And so I found myself moved to tears. A girl who didn’t keep the Sabbath day holy, with a penchant for big words and grand gestures. By a holy man who carried with him a message so simple, I’ve probably heard it a thousand times. His gestures were plain: a yellow raincoat; a mischievous smile; that open mobile car; and even, that he didn’t have the words to say.

There was nothing grandiose about him. Except that this man drew a multitude making history; had grown girls (who haven’t seen the inside of a Confessional box since high school) cry; and whipped up a storm that seemed to follow in his wake. Preparing the way with “a garment of camel’s hair, a leather belt around his waist.”

You wonder why your sinking archipelago of 98 million people with a quarter in desolate poverty, is once again, asked to make history. And you stand there thunderstruck by synchronicity. It is January but there’s a storm at the exact place where it once battered and claimed 6,000 lives. Except now, there stands a faithful multitude protected by flimsy yellow raincoats. And there they stand with a reignited flame that won’t be dampened by rain. They wait for the Vicar of Christ. He says mass in the same fragile cover as everyone else. And they are no longer afraid. It is faith. The kind that moves mountains. And, it is also the tired cliché you don’t want to write about. Love. You see it everywhere begging to be told. In his Holiness: as he bears every man, woman and child; as he refuses to sit; as he junks every speech he prepared, to speak without pompous jargon from the heart. Christ in him. And then, Christ in you. And then again, Christ in everyone. In that little girl who asked about suffering, in that father who lost an only child, in the flock of yellow raincoats, and in that paraplegic who stitched a gift with his feet for the Santo Papa. You even need to see it in that spectacle of politicians whose private plane overshot the runway.

And just when you’re praising the skies, carried away by the Pontiff in a raincoat, he will say it again: “Not I, but the one who sent me.”

“Allow yourselves to be surprised by God…They shake the ground beneath our feet and make us insecure, but they move us forward in the right direction.”

My surprise was cloaked in simplicity, carrying a message I must have heard countless times. But such has pulled the rug out from under my feet. And here I am writing about God, and love, and a Pope for the first time. A girl who didn’t keep the Sabbath day holy, with a penchant for big words and grand gestures. God had me at that yellow raincoat.

And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”

He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes. So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14: 13-21

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