Feast of St. Arnold Janssen
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: Mt. 18:1–5,10
At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, 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.
“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.”
In other words
Fr. Sonny de Rivera, SVD (Rome, Italy)
Saint Arnold Janssen, whose feast we also celebrate today, had the pious tradition to process the image of the baby Jesus throughout Christmas time. He would put out the lights in the chapel and alone in the evening, he would walk up and down with the image in his arms, praying and meditating. He is overwhelmed by the love of the Word Incarnate. He cradled in his arms the baby Jesus. That gesture reflected his responsibility to assure that the three religious congregations he had founded work and evangelize in the spirit of communion and solidarity.
This celebration of the Santo Niño comes when the planet Earth continues to tread uncertain moments and uncertain times. We are constantly faced with the concern, “And now, what’s next?” More than ever, this is when we become children once again, like Jesus. We need the humility to realize that we are nothing before God, and he is the answer to all our concerns and queries in life. We need to put on the vest of unending trust that whatever and wherever we are, God will cradle us into his arms, reassuring us that he is there for us.
Let this feast of the Santo Niño be a renewal in getting to know Jesus and getting to know ourselves. Are we ready to turn and become like children? Are we willing to humble ourselves in a childlike spirit? Are we always prepared to receive a child representing those in need, suffering, unwanted, and uncared for?
The Sto. Niño challenges all of us to care for one another. Our devotion to the image of the baby Jesus leads us to put words into action. We are being led to do something concrete. We are called to stamp the love of Jesus to those who are longing for him.
Arnold Janssen continued searching for God’s will with childlike confidence in divine providence. Throughout his life, he journeyed with the image of the baby Jesus, allowing his missionary journey to be permeated by the trust, humility, and unconditional dependence of a child.
The procession of the baby Jesus during Christmastime continues to this day in the three congregations founded by Arnold. The Arnoldus family wholeheartedly embraces the devotion of the Santo Niño. Viva el Santo Niño.