From swaddling clothes to kingly raiment

HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

Thanks to God, our devotion to the Santo Niño remains strong, deep and growing. Yes, there may still be things that need to be made right and purified, but we cannot deny that this devotion has helped us greatly in pursuing the proper path toward God, especially in a world that is increasingly secularized and paganized.

Thanks to God the image of Christ as both a child and king, from swaddling clothes to kingly raiment, has truly so captured the Filipino heart that whatever situation we may find ourselves in, whether good or bad humanly speaking, we still keep our Christian faith and try our best to live by it.

On this Feast of the Santo Niño, we are reminded that irrespective of whatever status we have in this life, it is always necessary that we be like children. Why? The quick answer to that is by becoming like children, as Christ wants us to be, we can also become king the way Christ is King.

Christ told his disciples clearly: “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” (Mt 18,3-5)

Christ reiterated this necessity of being childlike a number of times during his preaching. “Let the children come to me. Do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mk 10,15) St. James, in his letter, made the same affirmation. “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (4,6)

We can ask what it is in children that Christ would want us to be like them? I suppose what can come to mind are the qualities of simplicity, transparency, complete trust to elders, etc.

These qualities enable us to deal with whatever situation and circumstance we can find ourselves in this life of ours here on earth. They enable us to dominate them, the way Christ dominated as king over all the possible human situations in the world.

We need to be clear about what makes for our human and Christian maturity, and how being like a child enters into the equation. We have to explode the myth that for us to attain our Christian maturity and perfection, we have to be an adult in age, with many years of experience, or popular in some religious ways, or knowledgeable about philosophy and theology. All these are helpful, but they are not the crucial elements.

What is essential is that our heart is fully conformed to God’s will, our life therefore somehow reflecting God’s goodness and holiness. And the child, with his inherent innocence and purity of heart, simplicity, and openness, among other qualities, has the advantage of easily attaining that ideal almost effortlessly.

To be sure, what is being referred to here about childhood is not about the common proneness of the children to be naïve, thoughtless, or to get easily spoiled and to fall into tantrums when whims and caprices are not met.

It’s just the child’s humility, transparency, and docility, among others, that make him easily drawn to God, and to the things spiritual and supernatural. These qualities lead him to believe and to trust. Talk to him about God, prayer and little sacrifices, and he gets it almost immediately and automatically.

With these qualities, we can channel in our life that transformation of the Santo Niño from swaddling clothes to kingly raiment.

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