TACLOBAN City, Jan. 15, 2017 – In a world that considers independence almost a virtue, a priest said children manifest a good kind of dependency, one that adults should imitate.
Speaking on the feast of the Sto. Niño, Fr. Erlito Maraya, rector of St. John the Evangelist School of Theology in Palo, Leyte, urged the faithful to emulate the character of a child who is dependent on his father, which in the context of Church teaching is God, the Divine Creator.
This dependency is further broken into two states: trusting and obedience.
The power of a child
Maraya also emphasized the second part of the First Reading taken from Isaiah: “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.”
“Upon his shoulder rests power,” stressed the priest.
“That is quite interesting because we do not associate childhood with power, but on the other hand they are in our society the most helpless people,” he explained.
Maraya linked the “power” the child possesses to a particular passage in Matthew’s Gospel that reads, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.”
“Every time Jesus says ‘Amen, I say to you,’ he assures [us that] what he is saying is important,” he said.
“Here Jesus stressed … the power of [children] to make one enter God’s Kingdom,” he said, underscoring the First Reading that talked about how power rests on the shoulder of a certain child.
Maraya likewise emphasized the word “unless” which for him means “a requirement” that one has to comply with lest he be denied the privilege, such as entering God’s Kingdom.
Maraya cited for instance the nature of a fish, which when taken from the sea will surely die because of its dependence on sea water for survival.
“It is like us, unless we inhale oxygen, we will die,” he further explained.
100% dependence on God
According to Maraya, people who are not dependent on God are not interested in God’s Kingdom but have other worldly interests.
That is why Jesus gave one requirement for entering God’s kingdom: realizing one’s 100% dependence on God.
“Pitiful is he who does not need God because he will stay away gradually from the Lord,” said the seminary rector.
Maraya said those who do not recognize God will also gradually forget about the Kingdom of God.
Conversely he said those who still worship God have a continuing chance of inheriting God’s kingdom.
Following the post-communion prayer at the Sto. Niño Church, Maraya gave a special prayer and blessing for all the children present during the Eucharistic celebration.
He likewise blessed replica images of the Sto. Sto. Niño de Tacloban before they were turned over to representatives of the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) in the parish.
Fr. Wilson Chu, co-parish priest of the Sto. Niño Parish in this city, said the images will be placed in the district chapels and will be available for devotional use in the BECs in clustered barangays.
In the Philippines, the Feast of the Sto. Niño is celebrated on the third Sunday of January, particularly in Cebu, Tondo, Samar, Aklan, Bogo, and Cagayan.
At the Sto. Niño Parish in this city, which celebrates the feast of the Child Jesus on June 30 due to its historical significance, the January feast is likewise celebrated with young children posing as principal sponsors (hermanos or hermanas).
Marcos Rufin, the sacristan mayor of the parish church, disclosed that the novena Masses for the Jan. 29 fiesta will start this coming Jan. 20. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros/CBCP News)