Sunday, January 17, 2010

Feast of the Santo Nino

The great earthquake in Haiti last Wednesday is the center of the news all over the world. An intensity 7 quake brought about the loss of many lives and property. It was a real equalizer as even the presidential palace and the archbishop’s office collapsed. Amongst the casualties was the Archbishop himself and a hundred seminarians. It was the strongest earthquake in 200 years and scientists are saying that when tectonic plates have not moved considerably in a long period of time, earthquakes of such magnitudes are most likely to be expected. It happened in Haiti. It can also happen to us because a major fault line runs through our city.

Earthquakes, of course, are explained scientifically as caused by the movements of the tectonic plates of the earth. But the recent catastrophe makes me look at the Santo Nino who holds a ball in his little hand. That ball is not a toy. It is the whole world which the Father placed into the hands of his dearly beloved Son. Of course we take it for granted that the world in the hands of God. But looking at the world in the hands of a little boy makes us think twice. The world is carried not by a responsible adult but by a child! Will you entrust costly jewelry to a little child? Will you let your little child hold one million dollars? None of us will ever think of making a child hold something so costly. Now comes the question: will you let the Sto. Nino hold the world in his little hands?

While we would hesitate to do so, the Father did not. In fact, Jesus himself said that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him by his Heavenly Father. Last Sunday, we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus. When he has come of age, the Holy Spirit descended upon him at the river Jordan and the election of the Father was heard by all: You are my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. It could be easy for us to say that he received all wisdom when he came of age. But the gospel today tells us otherwise for here we do not see a 30 year old Jesus but a 12 year old boy sitting amidst the doctors, listening to them and asking them questions. Origen said: “It is not the nature of men to be full of wisdom before they have reached their 12th year. It is one thing to partake of wisdom, another to be filled with wisdom. We have then no doubt that something divine appeared in the flesh of Jesus: not alone exceeding man, but every other rational creature also… And the grace of God was in Him. Not alone when He came to young manhood, and when he taught openly; but while He was yet a Child the grace of God was in Him: and as in Him all things were wonderful, so also was His Childhood wondrous, because He was full of the wisdom of God. ” (Pg 14, 10 in Luke)

In His Incarnation, the Lord Jesus took upon himself an image of weakness and yet, the image of the Santo Nino tells us that his self-emptying has not diminished in any way the greatness of his Divinity. For even as a Child, His Power is still supreme, His Authority complete, His Wisdom without defect. Even as a Child, Jesus is perfectly God and perfectly King. If through Him everything came to be and nothing existed except through Him, then should it be wrong that He should hold the world in His little hand? If this Child stayed behind in Jerusalem to be about his Father’s business, then should we not keep our confidence in him who would later on say, “As long as I was with them, I guarded them…I kept careful watch, and not one of them was lost…” (John 17:12) Yes, in the hands of the Santo Nino, we can confidently entrust our lives and our selves. He will never lose any of us so long as we never let go of his hand. He is serious in going about doing his Father’s business. “It is the will of him who sent me that I should lose nothing of what he has given me…Indeed, this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks at the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life. Him I will raise up on the last day.” (John 6:39-40)
Viva Santo Nino!


  1. Fr, I just found out something interesting while examining the old Gozos to the Holy Child of Cebu. The 7th estribillo reads:

    Con olan ang pangayoon
    ug imong pagadugayon
    dad-on ca sa baybayon
    ug sa dagat pasalomon
    ug dayon nila macuha
    ang olan nga guitinguha

    which I translate as:

    If it is rain to be asked
    and you delay it
    you are brought to the shore
    and in the sea made to swim
    and then they shall receive
    the rain that they have wanted.

    The Cebuanos made the Holy Child swim in the sea. I do not know if this is literal (the earlier part of the Gozos recounts the history of the devotion; hence, literal). This is interesting. A swimming Nino.

  2. Speaking of Gozos, Bl. Pedro Calungsod already has his Gozos. The Gozos apparently never left the Visayas.

  3. Chiness, this practice is also in the culture of the Western Visayans. The Ilonggos would submerge the image of the child Jesus when invoking rain. That's still being practiced by the old women in our province.

  4. Books on Filipino religious customs speak of the practice of bathing the image of the Santo Nino during times of drought.