Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Fearless Surrender of a Little Child

Jesus, I trust in you!

Children are usually told to watch and learn from adults. Adults like us are always presented to them as models who they should imitate. But the mind of the Lord is different. He tells us: “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.” Those who aspire to enter heaven must watch and learn from children. They are the models who we should all imitate if we want to be part of his Kingdom.

The Lord puts the little child in our midst today…the little child who oftentimes is relegated to the side because he has done nothing yet to prove his worth. The child has not proven his worth because he does not yet earn his keep nor has he achieved anything to assure him of his niche in society. And yet, when asked: “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven,” the Lord puts the child in the midst of his disciples and tells them: “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

In this way, he reveals to us his glory…for who is greater than Him who is the Lord? Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. To him, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given by the Father. And yet, in entering this world, he humbled himself and became a little child. He diminished himself. He made himself small, because in the Kingdom of God, littleness is the measure of greatness. Even Philosophy affirms this: God is the simplest of all beings. In the image of the Sto. Niño, we see the true glory of Christ: it is the glory of God’s only Son, full of grace and truth. Indeed, what the world deems important (like power and wealth) is nothing in the sight of God. A person’s true greatness is measured by his simplicity and child-like trust in the Lord.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus teaches us the doctrine of spiritual childhood. She wrote: “I understand so well that it is only love which makes us acceptable to God that this love is the only good I ambition. Jesus deigned to show me the road that leads to the Divine Furnace, and this road is the surrender of the little child who sleeps without fear in its Father’s arms. ‘Whoever is a little one, let him come to me.’ So speaks the Holy Spirit through the mouth of Solomon. This same Spirit of Love says: ‘For to him that is little, mercy will be shown.’ The prophet Isaiah reveals in his name that on the last day: ‘God will feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather together the lambs with his arm, and shall take them up in his bosom.’“ (Story of a Soul, 188.)

“The surrender of the little child who sleeps in its Father’s arms” is the oblation that pleases the Father. This surrender is the way of trust that the Lord is asking us to offer to him. Self-sufficiency brings us nowhere. We need the Father and we should never hesitate to ask for his love. With confidence, we should approach him for “there is no detail of my life that is too tiny for his concern.” As Jesus became a little child in order to enter our world, so we should become like little children in order to enter heaven. Let us confidently walk this way of spiritual childhood – the way of unconditional surrender and trust in the Lord. He does not need anything from us except our love. Let us give him this love as this is all the Father wants from us. Let us ask the Santo Niño: “O Son of God, who for my sake took on the dependency of childhood, help me to accept the readiness of the Father’s grace.”

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!  

Epiphany: All Nations Belong to Him

Jesus, I trust in you!

Jose Rizal was fascinated by a gamu gamo or winged termite which is attracted by light. The small insect, desiring for light, drew near the flame of the oil lamp even though it was dangerous. And true enough, its wings caught fire.
Light has power to attract. And Epiphany, being the feast of light, shows us this lesson. The Magi coming from the East, went to Bethlehem in search of the King of the Jews. They were led to him by the light of a star which they saw rising in the East. “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the Lord shines and over you appears his glory.” Indeed, these pagans saw the light of a star which beckoned them to a greater light and that light is Christ, who is Light from Light, true God from true God.

The pagans were not given the light of revelation. God did not send them prophets. They sought guidance from the stars because it was all they had. Through the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews, they heard of prophecies about the coming of the King of the Jews who would rule the nations. The unfortunate occasion of Jewish slavery in their land became a blessing for the pagans. “Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance…they all gather to come to you…”

Light has power to attract. We are drawn towards the light. Christ’s light draws us to himself. Christ’s light is not dangerous. It does not kill like the flame of a lamp. Rather, his light gives life. “What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race.” The Magi found out that the closer they were to Christ, the greater light they enjoyed. First, it was just a star that they saw. Later on, in Jerusalem, they heard the prophecies of scriptures. Then, finally, they saw Christ himself and they prostrated themselves and worshiped him. They offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Little did they realize that it was not what they brought that were the gifts to the newborn King but they themselves were the gifts. “I shall bequeath you the nations, put the ends of the earth in your possession.” (Ps. 2: 8)

The Jews are not the only ones who belong to the Lord. Even if they were the chosen people of God, they are not the only ones who belong to him. The world and everything in it belongs to him. We are all the inheritance of the Lord. We are his people, the flock he shepherds. Thus, today, the Father reveals to all of us his Son as our Lord and King. He also draws us towards his Son for Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him.”

Let us always be grateful to the Father for having revealed to us his only Son. As the magi experienced, so also do we realize that the closer we are to Jesus, the greater light we enjoy. The closer we are to Jesus, the more life do we possess, the more alive we are. The more light we enjoy, the greater is our capacity to see. The gospel of Jesus renders astrology useless. We no longer need the guidance of the stars. We are guided by a greater light given to us by the teachings of Jesus. When the magi found Christ, they no longer went back to their former ways. “They departed for their country by another way.” The Christian path is no longer a groping in the dark. It is not a guessing game. Rather, it is a confident journey from light to greater light. We do not worship a god we do not know. We know him for he has revealed himself to us. We know he is true and all his ways are sure.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!