Pope Francis met with priests, religious, and seminarians at "Coliseo Don Bosco” in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Music filled the hall as the smiling Pope entered the packed room. Some held up signs welcoming the Pope. He offered blessings and shook hands with several people on his way in.
A priest, nun, and seminarian gave testimony about their vocational journey to Pope Francis.
FR. CRISPÍN BORDA GOMEZ
"I feel very close and present in this spiritual, human, and pastoral service. Even in the most difficult moments of life, I always hear a voice inside me: 'Do not be afraid. I am to protect you.'”
SR. GABRIELA CUELLAR DURAN
"Singing is my life. It is something I had not stopped to think and reflect about. Music is extraordinary and carefully thinking for a moment, I realized that religious song is something transcendental in me.”
And the nun's beautiful testimony also included a bit of music itself.
DAMIÁN OYOLA RAMOS
"My following the Lord, it is not a product of chance. I know my call did not emerge in one night of sweats or a spectacular conversion, Saint Paul style. It was rather a long process and is still ongoing.”
The Pope hugged each person after their testimony. He discussed the Gospel reading when Jesus healed a blind beggar. The Pope said that there are three possible reactions to the cries of the blind.
The first, Pope Francis said, is to ignore them.
"To pass by, without hearing the pain of our people, without sinking roots in their lives and in their world, is like listening to the word of God without letting it take root and bear fruit in our hearts. Like a tree, a life without roots is a one which withers and dies.”
Another possible reaction for the religious is to recognize someone's pain but to quiet them and minimize their problem.
"Unlike the first response, this one hears, acknowledges, and makes contact with the cry of another person. It recognizes that he or she is there, but reacts simply by scolding.”
But the right way to respond, the Pope said, is to hear people in need and help them. One must have courage to do so.
"A logic, a way of thinking and feeling, which is not grounded in fear but in the freedom born of love and of desire to put the good of others before all else. A logic born of not being afraid to draw near to the pain of our people. Even if often this means no more than standing at their side and praying with them.”
Moments later, after a brief prayer, the event came to an end. And Pope Francis came as he left: hugging, smiling, laughing and talking to people as music played in the hall.