Gap between Sto. Niño devotion and conduct

Published January 16, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD


Fr. Bel San Luis

Today, the feast of the Sto. Niño in the Philippines, is immensely popular among Filipinos. Rich and poor, young and old alike maintain a strong, if not fanatical, devotion to the Holy Child. Colorful fiestas and processions are held in His honor.
The celebration this year, however, won’t be as grandiose as the festivities of the past years. This is to avoid huge gatherings like street dancing and jampacked churches, that can cause the spread of the swift COVID-19 Omicron variant.
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In the gospel, Jesus teaches: “Amen I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mark 13:15).
“Like little children,” what does that mean? What is it about a child that Jesus liked and valued so much?
The emphasis is on being childlike, not childish; hence, Christ-like.
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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 a poor or rich family.
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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 to read?”
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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 because she saw it innocently “as the book everybody loved.”
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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 talent, wealth and intelligence.
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Religion not acts
of worship alone
What bears examining is that such pious acts should have a deeper internal effect on daily life, that is, translated in the devotees’ deeds and moral conduct.
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Concretely, if after the grand festivities, devotees go home and continue to be unkind, harsh and unjust to their fellowmen or are engaged in corrupt practices and vices, their pious acts are defective, inconsistent and merely ritualistic.
Hence, the need to bridge the gap between pious devotions and day-to-day life and conduct.
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Vatican II in the chapter “The Church Today” states: “Nor are they any less wide of the mark who think that religion consists in acts of worship alone.
“This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age.”
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Let’s continue to cultivate a childlike piety and develop the virtues of innocence, humility, honesty, and filial trust in the Lord.
“Unless you become like little children, you cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven.”
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Appeal for seminarians. We Filipinos are very blest because there are still many young men who wish to become priests and missionaries. But some are financially hard-up due to this COVID-19 pandemic.
May I appeal to our readers to chip in or sponsor our seminarians’ schooling for one year.
For inquiry, e-mail me at: [email protected]
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Family TV mass — is aired on Channel 59, Free TV Ch. 41 at 6-7 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. at “MCFI SVD Media” Account on YouTube and Facebook Page. Priest presider: Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD.
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“The Family that prays together stays together”