12 faces of Christ during the papal visit

Serge Gabriel
'In those 3 days, I found myself encountering the God of surprises my educators have introduced me to'

Growing up and being educated by the Jesuits, I always loved how these men of the Church stressed, in every opportunity, to impart this value to all of their students. This lesson became one of the many reasons why the Jesuits became my heroes.

Considered to be at the core of Ignatian spirituality, finding the Domino (Lord) in Omnibus (everything) became a practice for everyday. It’s a piece of St Ignatius himself that I’m glad to have taken home and take with me wherever I go.

Undoubtedly, I owe much of who I am today because of my Jesuit education.

So, you can imagine my excitement when a very good friend of mine, David Lozada, who was covering Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope, messaged me asking, “Do you want to see the Pope?”

“Yes,” I said. And I had never been so excited in my life. 

My “yes” meant joining Rappler’s MovePH team and being on-site wherever the Vicar of Christ would be during his stay in Manila. The first two days had me going around Quirino and SM MOA and interviewing people regarding their thoughts and feelings on the pontiff’s visit. As our team lead told us, there were stories everywhere.

Waking up at 6am and fighting through crowds were just some of the challenges we had to go through everyday just for the chance to see the pope. It was all worth it. In those 3 days, I found myself encountering the God of surprises my educators have introduced me to. 

Through all that scrambling, I got more than I bargained for: I saw Christ. Not just once but over twelve times.

1) He sold me a Pope Francis pin for P10

Her name is Ana, a 47 year-old vendor selling papal memorabilia. She was very excited to see the Pope. All photos by Serge Gabriel

2) He then introduced himself as Antonio Cabreza

The man said he made the flags for Pope Francis after he saw the pontiff speaking to a large crowd. "Ginawa ko ‘to. May kasamang ‘We Love’ dapat yan." (I made these flags. I was supposed to add 'We love' before his name.)
Artists and activists from Sining Bugkos storm the Apostolic Nunciature before Pope Francis arrives, asking the pontiff to fight for Yolanda victims.

4) I saw Him excited as the sirens preceding the Pope mobile came closer

A young boy perches on top of his brother while waiting for the papal motorcade enter the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena
5) I saw Him come alone
“Shy ako (I'll be shy),” Carol said when I asked what she would say to the Pope if she could talk to him.
6) I saw Him come with 350 parishioners 
Fr Willy Benito, OFM, brings his parishioners to Luneta to see the Pope
I met Fr Willy Benito, a Franciscan parish priest of 21 years in Sta Ana.
“It’s makes me happy. Who would have thought he would have taken the St Francis of Assisi’s name? In history, St Francis was known for causing great change in the Church – you can see that’s what he’s also doing now,” explained the Fransiscan.
Fr Willy and his parish of over 350 members stood from 4am until evening on Thursday, January 15, just to see the pope. 
7) I saw Him wave from the popemobile
Without a doubt in my heart, those two seconds changed my life.
Pope Francis waves to the crowds during his arrival in Manila
8) I saw Him tired yet thankful
With her heart full after seeing the Pope, Grace says, “Sana bigyan pa ako ng buhay at sigla para patuloy po ako makapaglingkod sa Panginoon (I pray for better health and longer life so that I can continue serving the Lord.”
9) I saw Him as a grandfather
A grandfather carries his grandson who is barely a year old, while waiting for Pope Francis in MOA
10) I saw Him as a friend
“It's worth it!" this man says after standing for 5 hours under the rain
11) I saw Him scared
Scared as she rested in the arms of her mother struggling against the millions for a good spot in Luneta.
12) I saw Him eager to meet someone she hardly knew anything about
She is Frances, a small girl holding a Pope Francis doll. She promises to hold it up high for the Pope to see when he passes by

As the beloved Argentinian pope flew back home, I can only wonder what other surprises He’ll leave to be uncovered.

When I’ll get to see Pope Francis again, only God will really know. But when will I see Him again? Most likely on the next train ride I take or in the next seatmate in class I’ll have.

If you take a second to really look at someone, you might be surprised. I know I was and I couldn’t be more thankful for it. – Rappler.com

Serge Gabriel chased Pope Francis in Manila over the last 4 days as a Rappler Mover. He is an avid runner, writer, and an aspiring philosophy professor. This article also appears on his blog.