Feast of Sto. Niño

Week of Prayer for Unity

First reading: Is. 9:1–6

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing; They rejoice before you as people rejoice at harvest, as they exult when dividing the spoils. For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, The rod of their taskmaster, you have smashed, as on the day of Midian. For every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood, will be burned as fuel for fire. For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, Upon David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains. By judgment and justice, both now and forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!

Second reading: Eph. 1:3–6,15–18

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.

Therefore, I, too, hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus and of your love for all the holy ones, do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of [your] hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones.

Gospel: Mk. 10:13–16

And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

In other words

by Fr. Antonio Pernia, SVD (Divine Word Seminary, Tagaytay City)

“For Adults Only!” This could very well have been on the minds of the disciples in today’s Gospel reading when they shooed away the children from Jesus. They must have been thinking: “Surely Jesus’ message about the Kingdom of God is not for children; these children here have nothing at all to do with the master; they are too young to understand; they are only a nuisance; proclaiming God’s Kingdom is serious business, and this is strictly for adults only.” Yet, to the great surprise of the disciples, Jesus said: “Let the little children alone, and do not stop them from coming to me, for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs.”

As we know, during the time of Jesus, children did not count in society. They were devoid not only of physical power but also of legal status. According to Biblical scholars, writings during this time presented children as only either examples of unreasonable behavior or objects to be trained. Hardly were they regarded as persons to be valued and appreciated.

Jesus, however, turns this around and says that what he is about has everything to do with children. For children are parables of the Kingdom of God. Devoid of power, wealth, and status, children know best how to receive. Their receptivity, therefore, proclaims that the Kingdom is primarily a gift to be received. No human power, wealth, or status can ever force, create or bring it about. As parables of the Kingdom, children also symbolize all those to whom the Kingdom belongs-those who, like children, are deprived of power, wealth, and status in society-the poor and oppressed, the weak and lowly, the unknown and excluded. Together they occupy a privileged place in God’s Kingdom.

And so, it’s not “For Adults Only” but “For Adults Also.” The Kingdom of God is for everyone, even for adults, but only if, as the Gospel today tells us, they learn to “accept the Kingdom like a child.” 

This, precisely, is the message of the Feast of the Santo Niño—that for us to enter the Kingdom of God, we need, like little children, to accept it as a gift from God. The Santo Niño invites us to preserve and to deepen even more our utter dependence on God. For our eternal salvation will be the result not of our human efforts, but of the humble acceptance of God’s tremendous gift to all of God’s children.

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