Feast of the Santo NiÑo (Year C)

Is 9:1-6; Eph 1:3-6,15-18; Luke 2:42-52

In the Old Roman Empire, when the soldiers were returning from a successful conquest, the emperor would be sitting on his throne. The soldiers with their war spoils and booty would pay their respects to the emperor as the crowd cheered them. On one occasion, a child ran across the path of the legion going to the throne of the emperor. A group of guards tried to strop the child telling him: “Don’t you know that you are showing disrespect to the emperor?” But he retorted: “He may be an emperor to you but for me, he is my father.”

Today, here in the Philippines, is the Feast of Santo Nino (the Holy Child, Jesus). In the gospel, we find the Child Jesus, as a twelve year-old boy, sitting in the midst of teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. In my own personal reflection, Jesus wanted to learn. He wanted to hear what motivated these teachers and their ideals why they chose to teach. He wanted to listen from them in order to prove too of what he already learned from His parents at home.

St. Luke, in this context where Jesus was in the midst of teachers, emphasizes the humanity of Jesus. It is because sometimes we think that since Jesus is God, He already knew everything. It is the same as saying that Jesus is not fully human. Jesus is human, therefore, he underwent the right development as a person.

As what I have said, the Santo Nino is the Holy Child, Jesus. If we read the gospels, we find so many passages about Jesus telling us about children. In the gospel of St. Luke 18:16), he said: Let all the little children come to me”. In the gospel of St. Matthew (18:3), Jesus also said: “If you do not become like little children, you will not even get into the kingdom of heaven.” What does Jesus mean by these words about children?

Even the Philippine Constitution (Article 2, Section 12) provides, as one of the principles and policies of the State, a section stating to protect the life of the unborn from conception. That is why, abortion here in the Philippines is a crime punishable by law. In Article 2, Section 13, of the same Constitution, states that the State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being. There are also Republic Acts and local ordinances made into law for our children’s well-being and protection.

But what is happening now is that there is an alarming increase in child abuse in the country. One speaker presented the four fears of children, namely: hunger, domestic violence, sexual abuse and political arm conflict. It was put in the news too that even a religious sister was recently found guilty of physically harming her 11-year old student and, thus, was sentenced to five years probation. Even the Catholic Church, one of her special concerns is our youth and children.

A child, according to Megan McKenna is the one who lives at the back of others. He/she has an enormous energy, spontaneity and interest in life. Children are curious, experimental and non-judgmental until they are taught the difference between races, religions and economic realities. Everything is very concrete to them; experience is close and intimately connected to them and what is done to them or what others think about them. They are honest and the truth tellers of the world. They want to live, grow up and become like someone they admire or respect or love. It is hard to be a child in the world and it is as hard to be a child of God in the world.

Actually, these are the things or qualities of a child God wants in us, in order for us to become children in the eyes of God. In addition to the qualities I mentioned, what makes a child so attractive to us, as somebody said is its weakness. Because a child is weak, everyone wants to help it and to hold the child. A similar dependence on God is very pleasing to Him. If we can develop a spirituality of putting ourselves in God’s arms, as if God is carrying us, like a little baby and letting Him do what He wants with us, then we, too, will surely enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Another quality of a child is its openness and simplicity. A child makes no judgments unlike adults, as mentioned earlier. A child does not care if we are brown, black or white. It does not care if we are rich or poor. It does not care if we are famous or nobody. What a child interest is our goodness as adults. To a baby, everyone is good and so it opens its arms and welcomes anyone to hold it.

And so, in this feast of Santo Nino, the Child Jesus challenges us to become like little children as well as to grow up in faith, like Him. It is because the child Jesus we meet in the gospel of today is the same Jesus who later went around healing, preaching and teaching. He is the same Jesus who welcomed the little children, blessed and loved them. He is the same Jesus who died for us on the cross, who was raised from the dead and is present in the Church. So we are challenged to grow so that we can appear before our Lord one day without fear and shame.

See Today’s Readings:  Cycle C

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