January 15, 2023 – Feast of the Sto. Niño de Cebu
Is 9:1-6; Eph 1:3-6, 15-18; Mt 18:1-5,10
During our Wednesday novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we always ask our mother to help us learn to adapt to our growing children. Praying this, we acknowledge before the Lord that as Christians and in particular as parents, we are imperfect. We recognize that we encounter problems and difficulties in dealing with our growing children and that, at times we fail to love and respect the children as persons and as God’s children. And for this, we implore Our Mother’s guidance and assistance.
Filipinos love the Sto. Nino, the child Jesus, and today – every third Sunday of January, we celebrate the Feast of Sto. Nino. Like the Sto. Nino, we honor our children of today as also God’s gifts and instrument of salvation for humanity. They are God’s blessing and signs of hope for our Christian families and communities. As gifts, children must be accepted, love and provided with the love and care they need for their growth and well-being. As God’s instrument, they must also be respected for what they are and will be, with talents and limitations, for in their own unique way children can contribute to the building up of Christian families, and communities, and in God’s kingdom as well.
In our gospel today, we hear how Jesus emphasize Greatly the value of us being God’s children, and of being children in God’s kingdom. For Jesus, our being beloved children of God is our very dignity and rights as a person. As God’s beloved children, we enjoy personal relationship with Jesus and the Kingdom of God. We have the right and duty to grow in faith, to grow in our own personal relationship with God. It is also our vocation to be His disciple – to come and follow Jesus Christ and express our response, by our love and respect for others. Today, Jesus invites us to especially love and respect our children, as much as we demand respect from them. Our today’s children are also God’s beloved children, like us now adults Christians.
Now if we wish to learn how to adapt to our growing children – to respect God’s beloved children, take a good look at the picture of Our Mother Perpetual Help, a portrait of Mary carrying her child Jesus. By merely looking at the picture of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we readily notice the relationship between Jesus and Mary – Mary as the mother, the parent of Jesus the Redeemer. As a mother, Mary presents to us the child Jesus, a child who like any other child needs nourishment, love, guidance, protection and care of a parent. We see Mary as the model of Christian Parenthood for she teaches us how to love, care and protect our children. The picture also shows us Jesus growing and gradually learning that in fulfilling his vocation in life, there will be coming great changes and suffering (as shown by angels at the side bearing cross & hyssop on spears). And Mary has to adapt gradually to the changes going in her son’s life. As Jesus grew, so did Mary grow to respect and share the giftedness of the growing Jesus to others.
As we honor today the Sto. Nino, Jesus want us to remember that our devotion to the Sto. Nino must reflect not only our deep joy and thanksgiving to God for sharing us His only Son, but also expresses our love and concern for today’s God’s little children, His ninos and ninas. And the most relevant and meaningful way of honoring the Sto. Nino is not by merrymaking, parades or street dancing, but by concretely expressing our Christian respect, love and concern to our growing children, especially the poor and abandoned little children.
Concretely, I invite you BE with children & spent a quality time with them these days. Listen to their stories, their concerns, and their hopes in life. Respect and Learn from them for they are also God’s children and messengers. As a Filipino song would say: “Itanong mo sa mga bata. Ang buhay ay hawak nila… at Ang sagot iyong makikita.” Ask the children. Life is in their hands… and you will find the answers.
Through our children, may we discern and respect God’s ways and plans for a better life ahead of us.
So May it Be.