“Se ve, se siente. El Papa está presente!” they chanted. “You can see it, you can feel it. The pope is present!”
Just last year the people of Philadelphia experienced the great electricity that embraces the crowd when the spiritual leader of the worldwide Catholic Church visited the City of Brotherly Love.
The peoples of Mexico are experiencing that great sensation of having the Church’s,”Papa,” among them this week. Yes it is a visual excitement, a sensory overload that one never forgets when the Bishop of Rome is in your midst. There is an old theological adage, “Ubi Petrus est, ibi ecclesia est!”
“Where Peter is, there the Church is!” The presence of Pope Francis incorporates this theological adage very well as millions and millions of Mexican Catholics experience, “El Papa!” The presence of the Pope stimulates Catholics globally whenever and wherever he goes…and why not! He represents the embodiment of the Church, its antiquity and the Apostolic traditions that make us universally the People of God.
As the visible sign of the Church, Pope Francis incorporates in his person all of the beliefs and traditions we as Catholics hold as true and sacred. The Church’s Eucharistic Prayers include a prayer for the Pope, “…we pray for Francis, our Pope…” daily! Rightly so, because the role of the Bishop of Rome is more than just being the episcopal head of the Catholic Church in Rome, he is the Chief Pastor of the Universal Church, the Successor to Saint Peter to whom Jesus entrusted the governance of the Catholic Church to prior to His Ascension.
We are all familiar with Jesus’ words to Peter in Matthew 16:18 , “Et ego dico tibi quia tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversum eam.” And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. What we often forget to recall is what Peter proclaims to Jesus prior to these words. Peter responds to Jesus’ interrogatory question regarding who do people say that I am. Peter, without hesitation proclaims,”… respondens Simon Petrus dixit tu es Christus Filius Dei vivi!”
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”
Wow, what a manifestation of faith that Peter exhibits. He unconditionally and without hesitation proclaims Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed One, the Son of God! Perhaps, we are all emulating Saint Peter when we are excited and faithfully stimulated when we see the successor of Saint Peter, Pope Francis! We too are electrified in our proclamation of faith in Christ Jesus in the same way Peter exclaimed his proclamation of faith to Jesus when questioned by Him. Our proclamation of faith is celebrated through the Church, and the Pope represents the Church for us, which existentially is the Body of Christ! That’s why we welcome the Pope with such fervor, excitement and great anticipation. Pope Francis calls us to celebrate our faith in Christ through his role as the Successor of Saint Peter.
Every time then we pray for the Pope, in the Eucharistic Prayer, after the Rosary, in the Prayers of the Faithful and everywhere we gather in faith, we too are joyfully proclaiming Peter’s profession of faith, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”
Pray for continued faith in the Church and Her Sacraments, greet Jesus Christ in His Church and in the Eucharist with the same enthusiasm Peter exhibited for the Risen Lord and always remember that with the people of Mexico and the entire Church, we proclaim Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.