Feast of Sto. Nino
Least yet the Greatest in the Kingdom
Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge.
The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year old
child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.” (Arnoldus Nota Jan 2008)
Such simple act of kindness and thoughtfulness of the child merited him not only the admiration and acclaim of many who have heard of his story but will also merit him a place in the Father’s Kingdom. This child, truly exemplifies what our Gospel vividly declares today as the “greatest in the Kingdom of heaven,” which is none other than an honest to goodness act of kindness. I truly believe that our devotion to the Holy Child Jesus (Sto. Nino) is an expression of our inner longing and constant desire to be great in the kingdom while we remain unnoticed, unrecognized, and simple as a child. Certainly, there is much that we can learn from a child.
Honesty and openness are true marks of a child. Learning is easy and fun for them because of their eagerness and readiness to learn. Children admit and knew that they knew little and it pushes them to gain more. No wonder, children normally bombard us with questions. For us who are grown up we have become wise and complicated. Our actions will have always reasons and explanations. Here lies our problem and difficulty to such an extent that our acts of kindness and charity have to pass through our deliberative faculties.
Once, I was with my relatives going down the stairs of MRT station in Pasay, one of my younger nieces instantly drops a P5 coin in the cup of a child begging. When we get home, his Father strongly tells him not give because these kids were part of syndicate. Hearing that I came to realize that not only did we loss that personal attitude of honestly and openness, but the society itself had lost such atmosphere of openness and honesty. Hence, the message of a child remains very valid and relevant today. In our times when things are so complicated, the child’s call for honesty and openness is very urgent and needed. I believe many of us are naturally kind and charitable, but aware of the complex reality of life, that people are cheating on us, that there are many who would have no second thoughts of hurting us or even of killing us, it is not easy to be a child with openness and honesty. Today’s feast of the Sto. Nino is an urgent call for all, individuals and communities alike to bring back into our lives and communities the openness and honesty of a child.
One thing that I like about our devotion to the Sto. Nino is the various and different renditions of the Holy Child. I enjoy seeing the Sto. Nino dressed up as a fisherman, basketball player, doctor or nurse, fireman and a policeman. (Once when I came across this, I have to check if its hand is outstretched to receive a “tong”.) With these, I came to realize that our various renditions of Sto. Nino is an outward manifestation of a very deep religious thought. It expresses that religious vision of saturating every aspect of life with Christ. It is a symbol of our faith and hope to make God present in every moment of our lives, in all our relationships and in all dimensions of our communal living. This is exactly the inauguration and fulfillment of the same Kingdom preached by Jesus, “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” In other words, by dressing the Sto. Nino as a nurse, we are telling others that I see Jesus, I see God in the care of the sick, I see Jesus in my work to provide health care services to others. Or when we dress the Sto. Nino as a policeman, it expresses our hope that our law enforcers will be honest, that they will defend the weak, that they protect our rights, while at the same time we declare that God is our source of security as we find ourselves secure with our policemen. The applications and insights can continue on. All of them express our hope and faith to find and experience God in different people that cross our lives.
From these we can say that it is in finding God in the people we meet that we can regain the attitude of honesty openness of a child. But this is not an overnight job. It may take our whole generation before we see it happen. Nevertheless, it provides us with the direction and proper outlook of life. It gives us the opportunity to contribute in making our communities a better place where God reigns and children are the greatest of them all.