How to Show Devotion to the Child Jesus (Sto. Nino)

18 January 2009. Feast of the Sto. Nino
Proper Feast in the Philippines: 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 9, 1-6; Psalm 97; Ephesians 1, 3-18; Mark 10, 13-16

Today we celebrate the feast of the Sto. Nino. In this celebration, we praise our Lord as a sign of our gratitude for the Christian faith. Today we remember the first time when the Catholic faith was introduced to our country.

Let us put this celebration in its proper context. We need to accept that Jesus is not anymore a child. He already grew up: when He was baptized and began His public ministry, He was 30 years old. We ask this question today: If Jesus then is fully grown, what is the meaning of our devotion to the Sto. Nino or to many forms of devotion to the Child Jesus? What is the proper way of showing our devotion --- or our affection --- to the Lord?

First, we can see this in the dance of the Sinulog. The dance steps involve two steps forward and one step backwards.

Two-steps forward. Every anniversary is a celebration of progress. For example, in wedding anniversaries, we reflect on our advancement from the day the couple got married. Were they able to fulfill their dreams? Did their relationship deepen through the years?

One-step backwards. The devotion to the Sto. Nino is also a reminiscing of history. We are very happy for this great gift of faith. Fr. Horacio de la Costa SJ said that the Philippines has two treasures: our music and our faith. True, we are celebrating that time when our faith was at its beginning, when it was as young as a child. And so we ask: are we still faithful to this faith that was introduced to us in the 1500s?

But two-steps forward and one-step background is the dance itself; the movements cannot be separated or are independent of one another. This should be what we do in our lives. Our celebration of the Sto. Nino is a respect for the process of growth; an acceptance that growth in our lives is a series of changes and progressions. We plan our lives to have direction. We take good care of each step as Scriptures say about Jesus, “the child continued to grow, increasing in wisdom”. We celebrate every successful stage such as a graduation or a promotion. You see, the child does not mature quickly --- maturity requires a number of stages.

Second, the devotion to the Sto. Nino reminds us that we are called to have the qualities of a child. To be childlike but not childish. There are many traits of children that are laudable Christian virtues, but let me focus on only one: simplicity.

Simplicity is practical and appropriate at this time when many of us will feel the effect of the global recession. There are those who lost their jobs. And many people are increasingly becoming hungry. Thus, this is the time to challenge our way of life or our lifestyle. To take seriously what are necessary and not what is ostentatious.

But in the midst of our difficulties, we should not forget our sense of humor; to find ways to still enjoy and celebrate. There are many ways to do it. Do you remember when you were a child? Any object around us were potential toys. We did not have to spend; we did not have the computer and video games that needed some amount of money. Remember tumbang-preso, patintero and piko? Remember jackstone and chinese garter? Can you still find happiness in toys like paper planes?

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