Some truths can only be seen through tears

Glyzelle Palomar, 12, and Jun Chura, 14, two former street children, walk to their seats after greeting Pope Francis during a meeting with young people in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18.

CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING

Glyzelle Palomar, 12, and Jun Chura, 14, two former street children, walk to their seats after greeting Pope Francis during a meeting with young people in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18.

January 26, 2015
CINDY WOODEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Tears often are the only correct response to suffering, Pope Francis told 30,000 young people Jan. 18.

While it is impossible to explain why God would allow children to suffer, he told the young people, "only when we, too, can cry" can one approach a response.

"I invite each one of you here to ask yourself, 'Have I learned to weep and cry when I see a child cast aside, when I see someone with a drug problem, when I see someone who has suffered abuse?" the pope told the gathering in Manila.

Being moved to tears out of compassion and in the face of the mystery of suffering is holy, he said. It is not the same thing as crying to manipulate or get something from someone.

"Certain realities in life can only be seen through eyes cleansed by tears," the pope said Jan. 18 after listening to Glyzelle Palomar, who used to live on the streets.

She now has a home thanks to the foundation for street children Pope Francis visited in Manila Jan. 16.

Palomar spoke after Jun Chura – a 14-year-old rescued from the streets by the same foundation – described life on the streets as a struggle to find enough to eat, to fight the temptation of drug use and glue sniffing, and to avoid adults looking for the young to exploit and abuse.

Covering her face with her hand as she wept in front of the microphone, Palomar asked the pope, "Why did God let this happen to us?"

The pope kissed the top of Palomar's head and pulled her close for a big hug, then embraced her and Chura together.

"Jesus in the Gospel cried, he cried for his dead friend," Lazarus, "he cried in his heart for the family that had lost its child, he cried in his heart when he saw the old widow having to bury her son, he was moved to tears of compassion when he saw the multitude of crowds without a pastor," Pope Francis said.

"If you don't learn how to cry you cannot be good Christians," he told the gathering at the University of Santo Tomas.

In the face of suffering like Palomar's and Chura's, he said, "our response must either be silence or the word that is born of our tears."

"Be courageous, do not be afraid to cry," the pope said.

EMOTIONAL GATHERING

The pope's gathering with the youths was emotional from the beginning.

One of the first things he commented on was the fact that Palomar was the only female on the program.

"Sometimes we're too 'machista' and don't allow room for the woman," he said. "But the woman is able to see things with a different eye than men. Women are able to pose questions that we men are not able to understand."

The pope also responded to the questions of Leandro Santos II, a law student, and Rikki Macolor, a recent graduate who, with his friends, designed a solar-powered night light for typhoon victims.

In his reply, Pope Francis focused on love, compassion and the challenge of not just helping the poor, but allowing oneself to learn from and be evangelized by them.

"What is the most important subject that you have to learn in university, what is the most important subject you learn in life?" the pope asked. "To learn to love. This is the challenge that life offers you.

"True love is to love and allow yourself to be loved," he said. "It is harder to let yourself be loved than to love."

Pope Francis thanked Macolor and his friends for helping the poor victims of Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, but he asked them, "Do you allow yourselves to receive?"

GIFTS FROM THE POOR

Putting his finger to his lips, the pope said he didn't want them to respond immediately, but to ponder the other, essential Christian part of being with the poor, which is being willing to learn from them and to accept their gifts.

"The Sadducees and doctors of the law in the time of Jesus gave much to the people, they gave them the law and taught them, but they never allowed the people to give them something," he said.

"Become a beggar," the pope said. "Learn how to beg," to receive with humility, "to be evangelized by the poor. The persons we help, the poor, the sick have so much to give us."