3rd Sunday of January
FEAST OF SANTO NIÑO or HOLY CHILD JESUS
I was a grade schooler in San Beda College in Manila and I remember well how each morning, before entering the school gates, I and some companions of the private school van, used to greet Our Lord and Our Lady in the beautiful Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat, where one can see the Santo Niño de Praga in the main altar.
When I was around 10 years of age, or perhaps younger, I dreamt about Santo Niño. With the candor of a child, I remember telling my mom about it. My mom asked me if I wanted a Santo Niño for my birthday gift, to which I responded affirmatively with joy. The time came when she brought me to Farmers’ market in Cubao, Quezon City –it was just a 30-second walk from her office− where there was a store selling religious items. There, we found a very beautiful, smiling, beige-gold colored image of Santo Niño which she bought for me without hesitating (Ma, thanks a lot! It was the best birthday gift I had!).
From then on, the image of Santo Niño would occupy a very important and central place in my life as a child, and later on, as a teenager and young adult, until I left my parents’ place to stay in a friend’s house near UP College of Medicine (Taft Ave.) and later on to various centers of Opus Dei. In Manila and later on in Rome. I would never leave nor arrive home from school or the university without giving Santo Niño an affectionate kiss, sometimes hurriedly though… At times, when I behaved badly, I would approach him and ask pardon (the image represents a child-God who is easily approachable!). I can’t sufficiently thank my mom for this gift for it has shaped my dealings with God since childhood.
Today, as the feast of Santo Niño is celebrated in my nativeland, I thank God for bringing the faith to the Philippines through the heroic efforts of the Spaniards and through the omnipotence of the Holy Infant Jesus who with his humility and simplicity conquered the hearts of the Filipinos.
The evangelization in the Philippines was carried out with success through the devotion of the Filipinos to Santo Niño of Cebú, a statue of the infant Child Jesus, the oldest religious Christian image in the Philippines, which was originally given in 1521 as a baptismal gift by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan via Antonio Pigafetta, who physically handed it to Lady Humamay, the chief consort of Rajah Humabon, along with a statue of the Virgin Mary and the bust of the Ecce Homo.
Pope Francis said in his homily before 6 million Filipinos gathered at the Luneta Park on January 18, 2015 (Santo Niño day in the Philippines):
“It is a special joy for me to celebrate Santo Niño Sunday with you. The image of the Holy Child Jesus accompanied the spread of the Gospel in this country from the beginning. Dressed in the robes of a king, crowned and holding the sceptre, the globe and the cross, he continues to remind us of the link between God’s Kingdom and the mystery of spiritual childhood. He tells us this in today’s Gospel: “WHOEVER DOES NOT ACCEPT THE KINGDOM OF GOD LIKE A CHILD WILL NOT ENTER IT” (Mk 10:15). The Santo Niño continues to proclaim to us that the light of God’s grace has shone upon a world dwelling in darkness. It brings the Good News of our freedom from slavery, and guides us in the paths of peace, right and justice. The Santo Niño also reminds us of our call to spread the reign of Christ throughout the world.”
In these days, throughout my visit, I have listened to you sing the song: “We are all God’s children”. That is what the Santo Niño tells us. He reminds us of our deepest identity. All of us are God’s children, members of God’s family. Today Saint Paul has told us that in Christ we have become God’s adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ. This is who we are. This is our identity.”
Dear friends and fellow Filipinos, let us see ourselves and behave with simplicity and humility, as little children before God, because that is who we are. Let us cherish our identity as God’s children, imitating the Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ in everything, for holiness consists in this: “the fullness of our divine filiation (St. Josemaria).” Let us all together pray:
“Father in heaven, may we recognize your only Son as God even in the lowliness of his human nature and adore him as our mighty Lord even in the frailty of his childhood. May we follow him with sincere hearts. Help us to welcome his kingdom among us with the eagerness of a child and to receive the reward promised to the humble (Opening prayer, Mass of the Feast).”
HAPPY FEAST DAY OF SANTO NIÑO TO ALL, ESPECIALLY TO MY FELLOW FILIPINOS!
MAY HE BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY WITH ABUNDANCE!
Cordially inviting you to visit and like our FB page inwww.fb.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness or sign-up to our website,www.catholicsstrivingforholiness.com, so we can have a wider apostolic reach and thus help more people in their Christian life. Thanks! Fr. Rolly A., priest of Opus Dei.
SEE AS WELL:
PHOTO SOURCE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6103/6381910981_f6dc3de91e_b.jpg (backrground removed, glow added).
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE HISTORY OF SANTO NIÑO DE CEBU, SEE https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santo_Ni%C3%B1o_de_Ceb%C3%BA
POPE FRANCIS’ HOMILY OF THE FEAST OF SANTO NIÑO 2015 in http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/homilies/1995/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_19950115_manila-gmg.html