The story of our Lady of Lourdes cannot be retold and recalled without remembering the story of Bernadette to whom our Lady appeared.
In the account of St. Bernadette about the apparition of our Lady of Lourdes, she said that she was so struck when the Lady used the French word “tum” rather than the familiar word “tu.” In French, “tu” is familiar like “ikaw,” but “tum” is polite like when you speak to an adult person or an elder person saying, “kayo po.” In Spanish, we say “tu,” but politely we say “usted.” So the Lady spoke to Bernadette not saying “ikaw” but rather saying, “kayo po.” Bernadette was so struck because she was a peasant girl who did not have any university schooling and yet here was a lady, so beautiful, addressing her with such respect. All through the apparitions, the Lady was politely addressing her, “kayo po.”
As we remember Bernadette, as we remember Lourdes, it is good to renew our commitment today to respect. We Filipinos use that word “kayo po.” We don’t use “ikaw” in addressing elder people. We are so respectful. We are so respectful that we reverence our elders and not only our elders but also everybody else.
Let us go beyond respecting our elders. Let us try talking to the waiter in the restaurants. They will tell us how maltreated they are by customers who think themselves better than the waiters. Is it asking too much that, following the example of our Lady of Lourdes, we say “po;” we say “opo” not only to those older than us but even to those whom society considers lower than us in stature. We cannot love people unless we respect. In the Gospel, it is the Lord who tells us and reminds us: First and foremost, respect the human person. The human person is not a means to an end. The human person is a goal. The human person is the end.
Whatever we do, we must make sure that the human person is not simply used to advance our career. The human person is not only used to enrich our pockets. The human person is not only used for our own selfish pleasures.
Let us bring back “po,” “kayo” instead of “ikaw,” and let us bring back respect. That is the beginning of love.
POLITE AND COURTEOUS
Love Like Jesus