YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TOPIC: BECOMING CHILDLIKE
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
(Feast of Santo Niño)
Gospel: Mk 10:13-16
Message # 282: “My Book”
- Introductory Notes
a) This Sunday is a special celebration in the Philippines in honor of the Holy Infant Jesus, or Santo Niño. The Holy See granted this permission for a special celebration in view of the exceptionally strong and widespread devotion to Santo Nino in this country.
b) This celebration imparts very valuable lessons in the faith. First, it is an affirmation of the mystery of Incarnation. Jesus was truly human, and he went through every stage of human life: “He grew in age, knowledge and wisdom.” Second, it is a celebration of childhood and its virtues: innocence, simplicity, purity and humility. Hence, Jesus said: “Unless you become like a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” The Santo Niño is always a reminder to us in becoming childlike in our attitudes and virtues.
Third, this celebration also helps us give attention to the plight of children: “See that you never despise any of these little ones. I assure you, their angels in heaven constantly behold my Father’s face.” During these times when children are being abused and maltreated, when abortion and infanticide are becoming very rampant, this feast reminds us of the strong warning of Jesus, and of our obligations as Christians to attend to the welfare of the helpless children and infants. Fourth, the beautiful image of the Child Jesus also expresses the infinite beauty of God, His graciousness and irresistible attractiveness. The smile of a child just “knocks us out of our feet.” That is the magnetic power of God. That is why Jesus was simply irresistible to the crowd; he is always a crowd drawer. Such is the holiness of the saints.
c) Despite all these positive fruits of this devotion to the Santo Nino, there are still many practices, tendencies and beliefs related to it that need to be rectified. First, many devotees of Santo Niño are just enamored by the cute appearance of the Holy Child, while subconsciously resisting the image of the Crucified Lord. This is what is called “eclectic” Christianity or the so-called “good weather” Christians. They only want to follow Christ when times are good, especially when He talks about rewards, “siksik, liglig, umaapaw.” But when He begins to speak about the cross, self-sacrifice and sufferings, they disappear like bubbles. There is, therefore, the need to emphasize the integral unity of the Paschal Mystery. The Baby born in the manger is the same Jesus Christ who will offer His life on the cross. Christmas and Good Friday are only one – they form one and the same sacred reality: Jesus, our Saving Lord. He was born to die for us. It is wrong therefore, to consider one stage of the mystery of Jesus as separate from the other; it is a mistake to separate Christmas from Holy Week, the Santo Nino from Poong Nazareno.
Second, some people like devotion to the Santo Niño because He is a child, somebody who has less power and so easy to manipulate. This manifests in our way of praying wherein we tend to dictate our will on God. Instead of us following His will, we try to let God follow our will. People have to be reminded that the Santo Nino is still Jesus Christ, the God-made-man. Despite His image as a Child, He is the Almighty God whom we must follow with reverence and complete obedience.
Third, many others make use of the Santo Niño as part of their superstitious beliefs. There is the Santo Niño against fire, another for success in business, and still others as security against evil spirits. Hence, we see his image not only in homes but also in many unlikely places as well: in the sabungan, beerhouse, sauna bath and the like. Some even treat the Santo Niño on equal footing with Buddha – for good luck. Isn’t it a big insult to Our Lord?
Fourth, others even make the Santo Niño a plaything, a toy. This explains why, especially in the Philippines, there are countless images of Santo Niño, each with distinct costumes. He has become a doll to others. Although it is our way of expressing that He is Santo Niño to every kind of people, it also betrays our desire to manipulate Him by the way we treat His image. To make the image of Jesus as a plaything is definitely a sacrilege!
And finally, there are those who have devotion simply due to the festivities connected to the Santo Niño. In many parts of the country, it has become a big tourist attraction. For some, it is just a secular celebration, and nothing more.
- The Sunday Gospel
a) The Gospel this Sunday is the Lord’s exhortation on becoming childlike. “Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it.” No matter how old we are, in the eyes of God we are still His children. This is what many people easily forget. As we grow older, we tend to place more emphasis on our own capacities and our ability to take control of our lives. Consequently, pride and arrogance gradually set in, and we become convinced that we can handle things our way, without God.
b) To become childlike simply means to admit our limitations and rely on God’s help and providence. This basic attitude leads to humility, docility, obedience and trust in God. These are what make us pleasing in the eyes of God for we reflect the image of His Most Beloved Son, Jesus, who humbled Himself and was obedient until death on the cross.
c) The Lord also reminds us also of our serious obligations to children: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” “See that you never despise any of these, for I tell you, their angels constantly behold my Father’s face.”
- The Marian Message
a) The Blessed Mother is giving an explanation about her book, the Blue Book. This is the book that contains her messages given to Fr. Gobbi. She categorically said, “It is my book”. It is she herself talking to us through this book and the messages contained therein.
b) This message is related to the feast of Santo Niño. She asked the question: “How should this book be read?” (letter d). And she answered: “With the simplicity of a child who is listening to his mother.” That is what devotion to Santo Niño truly means. Jesus humbled himself and became just a child under the tutelage and protection of the Blessed Mother, in order to teach us how to become like little children. The Gospels said “he was obedient to his parents.” If Jesus who is God, was obedient to his earthly parents, and never questioned their authority, then why do we act otherwise? So, the Blessed Mother urges us to listen to her just as Jesus did: full of love, with simplicity of mind and doing always whatever she says. “My only concern is that you live everything I have told you” (letter e). Then she will enlighten us and lead us on the way of love and life.
c) Her next question is equally important: what are the basic contents of her book? First, she is teaching us about the road that must be traveled by us if we truly want to live as her children consecrated to her. It is “a simple and beautiful road, but a difficult one” (letter h). Second, she is teaching us how to live with her, giving us advices how to practice her way of life (letter i). Third, as “she kept everything in heart”, she now reveals in her book everything that is in her heart, “the very things which Jesus has told you in the Gospels” which today “should be lived to the letter” (letter j). And finally, her book calls us “to prayer, to penitence, to mortification, to the practice of virtue, to trust, to hope, to the exercise of an ever more perfect charity” (letter k).
d) The final issue that she raised up is about her predictions. We should never be focused on the details and timing of her predictions (letter l). She reminds us that these are all warnings from her of the dangers and threats that are laid before us by the devil. As our Mother, she is very concerned about us (letter m). She hopes that with her warnings, we will be able to avoid these dangers and pitfalls. Furthermore, these warnings are meant to lead us to prayer and conversion. And these have the power to soften the offended heart of God: “Also when I predict chastisements to you, remember that everything, at any moment, may be changed by the force of your prayer and reparative penance” (letter m).
There are those who seem disappointed that the predictions of the Blessed Mother about the forthcoming chastisements have not yet occurred. That is foolish! “Instead, give thanks with me to the heavenly Father because at the response of your prayer and consecration, and on account of the immense suffering of so many of my poor children, again He alters the period of justice, to permit that of the great mercy to come to flower” (letter n).
Recite the prayer that helps us become childlike, the PRAYER OF HUMILITY.
GUIDE QUESTIONS FOR THE B.E.C.
Pag-usapan sa inyong BEC ang mga kamalian at mga abusong nabanggit kaugnay sa debosyon sa Santo Niño.
Anu-ano ang mga katangian ng isang bata na dapat nating maisabuhay? Ano naman ang mga ugali nating mga nakakatanda ang hindi kanais- nais at dapat na baguhin?
Ano ang mga masamang epekto ng divorce, contraception, pornography at homosexuality sa mga bata?