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Devotion not just ritual but childlike piety

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WORD ALIVE

By FR. BEL SAN LUIS, SVD

Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

The most popular devotions among Filipinos are: Jesus the Sto. Niño and the suffering Jesus or the Black Nazarene.  This is because Filipinos have an innate love for a helpless infant child and, in the Black Nazarene, they can identify their sufferings with the suffering Jesus.

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Big and mini statues of the Sto. Niño are dressed endearingly in various forms and attires. There’s a Sto. Niño clad as a fireman, doctor, or policeman (hopefully not with a hand receiving a tong!). There is also a Sto. Niño clothed in green, representing the green US dollar bills Filipinos dream of having.

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In the gospel, Jesus teaches: “Unless you become like little children you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18, 10).

“Like little children” — what does that mean? What is it about a child that Jesus liked and valued so much? The emphasis is in being childlike, not childish. “Mag-pakabata,” hindi maging “isip-bata.”

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One endearing quality about the child is its innocence and simplicity. When I was in grade school, I used to play with all kinds of kids in the neighborhood. My parents would warn me not to mingle with “dirty” kids from the depressed areas. But I didn’t see any difference or mind it if they came from poor or rich families.

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Children are honest and straightforward. “Hindi plastic.” A mother was once entertaining a priest in their house.

She bragged how she instilled on her children the love of reading the Bible. She called her five-year-old daughter. “Dear, would you get the book that we all love so much to read?”

* * *

The child ran to the parents’ bedroom and forthwith came bringing a book. “Here it is, Mama,” the young girl said.

When the mother saw it, she turned red with embarrassment. It was the catalogue of fashion wear! The child handed  the book “we all love” because it was her mother’s favorite.

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The other quality a child possesses is his spirit of dependence and trust. This is shown, for instance, when a toddler crossing the street puts its hand in the hand of the father and mother.

This dependence is true also with God. It requires true faith and a healthy fear.

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The absence of dependence is shown concretely when a man has no more time for God. Work and pursuit of money take His place or when he believes that he can do and get everything he wants with the power of his wealth and intelligence.

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We should be people who are aware of the fact that we are dependent on God. This is also the true meaning of the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” that is, blessed are those who realize that they need God in all aspects of life.

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The feast of the Sto. Niño is very popular among Filipinos. However, let not our devotion remain only on the level of the ritual and external. Let us rather develop a childlike piety and cultivate the virtues of innocence, humility, and filial trust in the Lord.

“Unless you become like little children you cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

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HOLY CHILDHOOD ASSOCIATION. Today January 20 is the Feast of Sto Niño.  Fr Bong Lo, director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the Philippines is inviting everyone to join the members of the Holy Childhood Association (HCA) to pray, offer sacrifices and material support for world mission.

The theme of the event is: “Children Missionary Disciples” of JOY (JesusOthersYou).

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FAMILY TV MASS — aired on IBC 13 (channel 15 cable) at 7-8 a.m. every  Sunday and on international GMA Pinoy TV. Sponsor: CEU, Malolos.campus. Mass celebrant: REV. FR. Raul de los Santos.

The FAMILY that prays together stays together.

 

 

 

 

 

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