Wednesday, January 14, 2015

FEAST OF THE SANTO NIÑO (B) - Being Childlike

Proper Feast in the Philippines
Mt. 18:1-5, 10
January 18, 2015

GOSPEL READING: The Greatest in the Kingdom
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.

REFLECTION: Being Childlike

Just like the Sto. Niño, we are all called to become childlike. Far from being childish which is irritating, a childlike person is pleasing. He is like the Lord described by Isaiah in the 1st reading as someone who makes our gladness greater and our joys increase (Isaiah 9:1-2). Now the childlike person is pleasing because of his sense of wonder, dynamism, and relation.

A childlike person has a sense of wonder. Aristotle himself says that this wonder which is the desire to know more applies to all humans (Metaphysics 980a21). Now this openness implies universality and discretion. Unlike the sceptic who is too proud to learn from somebody, the child is eager to learn from his parents and elders. Similarly the childlike person has this sense of universality by being open to the truth not just of one, but of everyone. For the truth that we cannot learn from one can be learned from another. This is the reason why for us Dominicans, we do not have the tradition of appointing only a single spiritual director in formation. The spiritual direction is provided by our community and our deep study life. This structure prevents us from developing a perspective limited by a single confessor or spiritual director.

Yet it is not enough that one be merely open. Discretion is also necessary so as to evaluate whether ideas are true or not. Fr. Enrico Gonzales, OP illustrates this using an angle saying that one should be open on one side and closed on the other side. He should be open on one side in so far as he accepts new truths that complement or clarify the already-established or accepted truths. Yet, he should also be closed on the other side in so far as he rejects ideas that totally contradict the established truths. A person who boasts of being so open that he becomes a relativist has the danger of having his brains fall down! That is why in today’s gospel, the child Jesus is not merely open in listening to the teachers of the temple. He also clarifies their ideas by asking questions (Luke 2:46). Similarly while the child is generally obedient to his elders, he would refuse to follow their immoral commands like not telling the truth. In the story of the Emperor’s new clothes, in spite of the command of his elders to ignore the truth and be silent, the child could not help laughing and expressing the simple truth that the emperor has no clothes.

A childlike person is also dynamic. Regardless of our achievements we all have to keep on progressing not just in knowledge, but in all aspects of our life. Even the child Jesus Himself “increased in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and men (Luke 2:52).” The problem enters when we fail to grow in one aspect of our life. Thomas Aquinas describes this as becoming a monster. Imagine that your body is growing but not your head! Hence, let us use the prayer of Paul in the 2nd reading that we may keep on improving in knowing and doing God’s will (Ephesians 1:17-18).

And finally, a childlike person is also relational. Being the youngest, the child could be the focus of attention in the family. But this focus is far different from that of the celebrities. The care and love given to him by his parents promote not so much grasping after something as openness to receiving trust and love. The centeredness of the child promotes unity and love.

As we celebrate the feast of Sto. Niño, let us pray that we may become like Him who is pleasing to everyone because of his wonder, dynamism, and love.

FR. RUDOLF STEVEN SEÑO, OP is a Dominican Priest assigned in the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas.


Feast, Cycle B, OP Friars, Sto. Niño, Child, Wonder, Dynamism, Love