of the Santo Nino
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Gospel: Lk 2:41-52
Probably you would agree with
me that the most popular household image is the Sto. Nino. I bless an image
of the Sto. Nino almost everywhere - from homes, to cars, to offices, factories,
stories, even at nightclubs and bars!
But kidding aside, it pays
to get to know how this image came to our country and reflect on how the devotion
influenced and molded the Christian faith we have now.
From the 16th century, it was
introduced on our shores by Magellan. It was known to replace the animistic
spirituality of the Filipinos. Later on, it evolved to more concrete experiences
of the Divine for the miracles attributed to the Sto. Nino like the blessings
of bountiful harvest and saving the entire community from wars, calamities,
and others. Truly, the devotion to the image found its niche in the hearts
and minds of the Filipinos.
Today, the Sto. Nino comes
in various shapes and sizes, sporting different costumes and titles. Aside
from the classic and majestic Sto. Ninong hari, there is the Sto. Ninong gala
or palaboy, tulog, magsasaka, and others, not to mention the Sto. Nino in
a baseball costume and kariton! Almost anything is possible under the sun!
But what does it tell about the faith of the Filipino? Is it still bordering on extreme fatalism or worst, idolatry?
The devotion still reveals
much about the Christian faith which the Filipino professes today. The inculturation
of the Christian faith and harmonizing it with the animistic spirituality
is positive indeed. It brings out our relationship with the Divine in a visible
and concrete way. The different faces, costumes, and titles of the Sto. Nino
also reveal a lot about the Divine being imbedded into the mainstream of human
Though on the negative note,
much still has to be done as far as the maturity of faith is concerned. The
Filipinos still have to realize that the image is not magical. It is meant
to heighten our awareness of God and not treat it as "anting-anting".
Also, the Filipinos' devotion is meant to be a challenge to align one's whole
life with Jesus Christ, the son of God, who was once a child like any of us,
but matured in grace, in age, and in wisdom, to be our Messiah, taking up
His cross for our salvation.
If Filipinos all take time to reflect once again the small image in their hands, they would know that the image becomes a dynamic reminder for them to journey toward God, get to know him, and follow His will. Then we will see from that small image comes out a livelier faith, more committed to change the world and the hearts of men and women.
Back in graduate school, our professor challenged us with these two questions: "How do you see yourself 20 years from now?" and "How do you plan to get there." So I planned, "In 20 years, I'll be a film producer like Steven Speilberg." And for the 2nd question,"I'll write, write, write."
The Gospel marking the public proclamation of Jesus encompassed these two questions. First, not only in 20 years did Jesus imagine this world, but in the whole world's lifetime, "to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, set prisoners free, and announce that year of favor from the Lord." For the second question, "This part of Scripture is being fulfilled in your hearing.
The first part gives us a reason to dream, to be alive, to hope, and to be assured that our lives are getting nowhere. But the second question puts us on proper grounding, "Now, I plan to get there with this step and that." Admit it, the reason why we can't reach our goals is because we wasted the present opportunity by doing things that have no relation with our future.
A final note: during graduation,
when we were so elated with our accomplishment, the guest speaker told us:
"You now have the power to change the world." I felt all the more
excited. This small act of my investment of 3 years education would actually
be instrumental for changing the course of history. Yes, it is much like Jesus'
proclamation; it is still changing our world. We can change tomorrow by doing
the correct things today.
When the Pope visited the Philippines last 1995, we recalled
that every Filipino was so excited, the youth were mobilized and there was
peace everywhere. It was reported that during the visit of the Holy Father,
was no crimes committed.
However, when the Pope left, it was reported that crimes came back.
This sad account just shows how shallow we are in our faith in God that it does not sink into our heart and touch and convert our lives.
The message of the Gospel is indeed for such change. The Word of God can change us once and for all. Just as the Lord came to offer new life for us, grant that we may respond to this call for a total change of heart.
Back in the seminary, I remember that informal philosophies were built up in our lives. For example, before choosing particular activities or buying things we would say, "Why, does it have to do anything with salvation?" Another example would be during the times of trials or failures, we would say, "No matter, as long as I'm loved by God, that's OK."
But these informal norms in lives really helped us through our discernment to the priesthood, constantly asking about things whether they are indeed helpful for salvation or not. They also serve as strength to our lives to focus on the love of God rather than be discouraged by the trials of life.
When Jesus was rejected by the people of Nazareth, he simply walked away. Maybe he said, "As long as I am doing the Father's will" or "I don't want to waste my time any further." In fact, this same norm he told to his apostles. "Don't worry about the persecutions. By the time you reach the last place you have already preached the gospel." And that's what he exactly did.
Sometimes it pays to focus on the real things as Jesus did.
There was once a man who went to a Psychiatrist to be
treated of his depression.
The doctor said, "Go out and enjoy new places!" The patient just said, "No use, I might have an accident."
The doctor said, "Then make your life at home fruitful. Go plant a tree." The patient said, "It's just hard work."
The doctor said, "Then make your house bright. Open all windows and re-decorate your house." The patient said, "But no one visits me."
The doctor became angry that he forced the patient to go with him to a cemetery. "Why did you take me here?" the man asked.
The doctor said, "You don't have any difference with these dead people except that you are alive. If you continue with this attitude, you'll end up one of them sooner than you think."
The Lord is always offering us life. It's us who don't accept him. It's us who are engulfed with our problems that we don't turn to him.
Pray to be a positive person in the Lord.
Have you ever looked at a child with so much excitement that
you ask, "What will this child's future be?" Then with an unbridled
commitment you said, "No
matter what, I will work hard for the future of my child."
Happy is the parent that looks lovingly at this child.
The Lord looks upon us in the same way. From the experience
of Simon, the Lord looked on him in a special way and saw right through his
told him, "You will become a fisher of men."
Learn to see right through what is existing. You will see the Lord himself and his loving plan to bring out the best in you and in others.
The story of St. Bernadette is so inspiring especially for those who are experiencing hardships. She came from a poor family but the Lady appeared to her and strengthened her faith.
She was sickly, but she brought healing to others through the spring.
She died of sickness, but to this date her body was incorruptible.
She was poor, but she is the richest of all. Her wealth is Jesus himself.
This is the true gift of poverty that the Lord promises in the beatitudes.
Poverty in spirit will make us aware the we don't own this world, but we are its stewards. Poverty will tell us to be available to others and to care for others and not ourselves. Poverty will tell us to cling on to God.
They say that the life of a Catholic is the easiest of all religions.
They don't impose fasting and tithing. It's all voluntary. There are rules, but nobody really checks on them. Sunday obligations? They can't check attendance unlike in other religions.
But these are not the signs of a true Catholic. For in the real Catholic, the law of the Lord is written in every hearts.
Actually, it is the hardest of all religions. Though it is committed to justice, it is also bound by forgiveness and mercy.
It not only considers those you love, but to pray even for the enemies. As it gives life to everyone, the first requirement is death to self by carrying one's own cross.
It is the hardest. But of all religions, it is perfect. Becuase it links everyone with God and makes salvation possible for everyone.
In Marital counseling, the most common problem is communication. When it gets worse, things in the house go flying by like pots, pans, and clothes out the door.
In conflicts between husbands and wives, each claim being correct and the other, wrong.
But in counseling, we advice that both of them are correct and both of them are wrong. It is just in a matter of listening to one another, and when we listen, we listen in the level of the heart.
Jesus at the last act of saving us said, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do." For if we know the results of our actions, we would not have put him on the cross. But Jesus saw within us and understood in his moment of suffering. He loves us.
Love forgives a lot of wrongs. Love doesn't judge. Love can see. We hope that when we look at others, it is not in being right or wrong that counts, but in our intention to be one with another.