The Feast of the Sto. Niño. Pit Senyor!

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Freeman

Today is the Feast of the Senyor Sto. Niño. 494 years ago, the Armada de Moluccas of Portuguese Fernando de Magallanes with three Carracks searching for the spice islands in the Moluccas landed in Cebu after a long voyage from the Pacific Ocean, which was named by Magellan. From the book of Laurence Bergreen entitled "Over the Edge of the World," it is very clear that Magellan's voyage was not to spread Christianity. They just happened to pass via Cebu because some historians say that Enrique, the slave of Magellan was either a Visayan or he already visited Cebu in the past.

But as what Pigafetta wrote, Magellan gifted Queen Juana, wife of King Humabon, when they were baptized as Christians with the gilded statue of the Senyor Sto. Niño. Forty-four years later, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in Cebu and subdued Rajah Tupas as he bombarded the settlement that was later known as Cebu. It was then that they found the image of the Senyor Sto. Niño within the ruins of the burned houses that they bombarded; the very same Holy Image that is still with us today, whom we revere during the Sinulog, the fiesta of Cebu. So today's Sunday gospel for the Philippines comes from Mark 10:11-14.

"People were bringing their little children to him to have him touch them, and the disciples rebuked them for this. When Jesus noticed it, he was very angry and said, "Let the children come to me and don't stop them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whosoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it. Then he took the children in his arms and, laying his hands on them, blessed them."


This gospel reading tells us a lot that God loves children! Well to people of faith, we are all God's children anyway. I don't know if I have already written about this in the past but I used to be annoyed when parents who bring their small children inside the church are unable to control them, especially when they start crying and end up disturbing the Holy Mass.

One day, I read a passage from Matt 18:10 wherein our Lord Jesus Christ said, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father."

This passage struck me to the point that today, when I'm in church and I hear a baby cry, I'm no longer disturbed, rather I'm reminded of this very scripture passage and say to myself that God the Father isn't really far from us as the angels of the little ones crying is looking at the face of Father God.

There is no doubt that God's salvific plan includes families. This is why after God created Adam in Paradise, despite the fact that Adam had dominion over the earth and sky, he was lonely and so God created woman from his rib, as woman was destined to be the companion of man. But the divine plan included for man to procreate and "subdue the earth."

It is because of this Divine Plan that we fought the Aquino Regime with a passion against the passage of the Reproductive Health  Bill because it is the beginning of the destruction of families through artificial means of birth control. If we don't stop the government from destroying our families, the many other issues like divorce, same sex marriage, and abortion will destroy the very social fabric that we know as the Filipino Christian family. Don't forget that famous quote by Edmund Burke, "for evil to triumph, it is enough for good men to do nothing!" But I'll bet that if the voting for the RH Bill was done today when Pope Francis is visiting us, Congress wouldn't dare pass that law!

So back to the Senyor Sto. Niño. I don't believe that it is a coincidence that Christianity would come to the shores of Asia through the statue of the Holy Child Jesus. As I have pointed out in several columns, when Ferdinand Magellan gifted Rajah Humabon and Queen Juana the statue of the Sto. Niño as a baptismal gift, they were not yet catechized by Fr. Pedro Valderama. Fr. Valderama's role was to make sure that the men in Magellan's voyage would have spiritual nourishment in their long voyage. But they were in search for the Spice Islands and not really to spread Christianity.

Through archaeological finds, we learned that our ancestors in Cebu worshipped wooden "Anitos" -- small, carved, and black statues of gods, that they say represented the Bathala. So it was only natural when Magellan gave King Humabon and Queen Juana the image of the Senyor Sto. Niño, which is well-dressed, well carved, and had gold fittings. Queen Juana embraced the statue of the Holy Child and kept it in her house until that fateful day when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived and bombarded the settlement of Cebu. So today, we celebrate the Feast of the Sto. Niño. And because of the Cebuano's devotion to the Holy Child Jesus, Cebu is so blessed!

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