Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
January 21, 2018 – Feast of Sto. Niño (Cycle B, Year II)
Community Word: Jesus Christ is the Light that leads us to the Truth.
Theme: We are led to the truth when we accept the kingdom of God with a pure heart.
Promise: “God may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of Him.” (Eph 1:17)
The Feast of Sto. Niño in the Philippines recalls the Christmas mystery of God offering His love to humanity in the Child Jesus. This is popular to us, Filipinos, for reason of history. The devotion dates back to the beginnings of Christianity in the country as the image came to the Philippines with Magellan in 1521 and is now enshrined in the Cebu Basilica. In the Catechism for Filipino Catholics, Sto. Niño is one of the “three popular Filipino images of Christ that are particularly expressive…imaging the innocence, simplicity, child-like wonder of Christ…responding to the Filipino’s natural love for children. Filipinos have traditionally recognized children as a gift from God. They experience the birth of a baby into the world as a special moment when God’s creative power is so intimately united with their own human parental procreative powers.” Moreover, as we have natural intimacy with children, our yearning for God’s intimacy with us becomes real in the Child Jesus.
In the Gospel, St. Mark describes a custom among the Jews of bringing their children before a rabbi, who is expected to give a blessing to accompany the children all their life. The disciples prevented them from coming close to Jesus for just like in most ancient cultures, children are considered as without value; they are essentially dependent nonproductive, ignorant. They believe that Jesus’ work is “serious” adult business requiring maturity, experience, merit and achievement. Like the Scribes and the Pharisees, the disciples believe that only those who know and observe the Mosaic Law count before God.
But Jesus receives the children, embraces and blesses them. Not only does he accept the Jewish practice but also points to the child as the prototype of a redeemed person. They are models of those who belong to God’s kingdom in their pristine humility, in their trust and complete dependence upon their parents. They have never been touched by the cunning of the world and so they never cease to amaze with their spontaneity and unconditional trust. To them is revealed the way to the kingdom that was hidden to the clever and the wise (1Cor.1:27). St. Mark saw in the child the promise of eternity: “…for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” (Mk.10:14b). The Kingdom is a gratuitous gift given to everyone, worthy or unworthy, not because they know and observe the law. For as the Lord promises: “God may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of Him,” (Eph 1:17).
God came to us as a baby because he knows that it is by being reborn that we can love him unconditionally with a pure heart, and be renewed to start all over again. A baby will always be a sign of hope, abundant joy and great rejoicing, to reunite, to heal, to form bonds, to reconcile, “For there is a child born for us…and this is the name they give him: Wonder-counselor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isa.9:5). A baby will always be one with whoever takes care of him/her. There is always a symbiotic relationship with the caregiver.
God is more than a caregiver. He is Father and Creator! Our adult life in Christ poses a challenge for us to reinvent the stage in our life that is long been past and forgotten. St. Paul reminds us that God “…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…” (Eph.1:3b). It is not enough that we utter words of protestations as a response to God, but like Mary in her fiat, we are to live the Word each and every day of our life. She is a bearer of Christ and therefore is fully aware that the reason of her being is to lead others to her Son, Jesus. In turn we are given this stewardship of God’s grace and truth of His kingdom. We have a fitting theme for this week in this feast to honor the Sto. Nino: We are led to the truth when we accept the kingdom of God with a pure heart.
Let not our devotion to the Sto. Nino be stunted into a ritual or merely into a superstitious endeavor. May we see in the Child Jesus the potentiality of the human race being born again, with our great responsibility towards human life.
Father, You have freely given us Your Kingdom out of Your over-flowing love for us. As You have revealed Jesus, your Son, our Savior, as a child to reunite, to heal, to form bonds, to reconcile, may He reveal our true selves to us. Jesus, help us to revisit our childhood and get in touch with who we were in our innocent trust and dependence upon the Father. And may the Holy Spirit empower us to lead the children to Jesus so we can truly be stewards of Your grace and proclaim that truly we have seen a great light. Amen.
Reflection Guide Questions:
1. What are the ways in which you can bring children to Jesus in the Sto. Niño devotion that can strengthen the family?
2. How can the devotion to Sto. Niño enrich your life in maintaining a pure and humble heart in your relationship with the Lord through others?
This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
January 21, 2018 (Sun) – Is 9:1-6/Ps 98:1-6/Eph 1:3-6, 15-18/Mk 10:13-16
January 22, 2018 (Mon) – 2Sm 5:1-7, 10/Ps 89:20-22, 25, 26/Mk 3:22-30
January 23, 2018 (Tue) – 2Sm 6:12-15, 17-19/Ps 24:7-10/Mk 3:31-35
January 24, 2018 (Wed) – 2Sm 7:4-17/Ps 89:4, 5, 27-30/Mk 4:1-20
January 25, 2018 (Thu) – Acts 22:3-16/Ps 117:1, 2/Mk 16:15-18
January 26, 2018 (Fri) – 2Tm 1:1-8/Ps 96:1-3, 7, 8, 10/Mk 4:26-34
January 27, 2018 (Sat) – 2Sm 12:1-7, 10-17/Ps 51:12-17/Mk 4:35-41
“Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ. Read your Bible daily!”