16 January 2014

Sunday Reflections, Feast of the Sto Niño Year A (Philippines), 19 January 2014

Holy Child of Cebu
Balaang Bata sa Sugbo
Santo Niño de Cebú

The Feast of the Santo Niño is proper to the Philippines and is celebrated on the Second Sunday in Ordinary Times. The prayers and readings of the Mass are proper to the feast. Here are the readings, taken from the New American Bible, the English translation used in the Lectionary in the country.

First Reading Isaiah 9:1-6    

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and 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 flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given 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,
from 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!

Responsorial Psalm   Ps 96[97]: 1-2, 2-3, 11-12, 13

R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
   sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
   let the sea and what fills it resound;
   let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
They shall exult before the LORD, for he comes;
   for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
   and the peoples with his constancy.
R. Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Second Reading Ephesian 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, Matthew 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.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

"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.

The Novena Song for the Feast of the Sto Niño

The Feast of the Santo Niño is hugely important in the Philippines. It is also an extension, in a real sense, of Christmas, even though the liturgical season of Christmas ended last Sunday with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The first Reading is that used in the Christmas Mass During the Night ('Midnight Mass').

It is also a celebration of the fact that Jesus came among us as a child. After posting this I read Our Stories on Misyon, the Columban online magazine I edit here in the Philippines, a reflection by our editorial assistant Richelle Verdeprado on the continuity between childhood dreams and the opportunities given us each day of our adult lives to create stories that glorify God’s presence in our lives.

Here are some quotations from Pope Francis, chosen in the context of this Sunday's celebration.

Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis

No 21. The Gospel joy which enlivens the community of disciples is a missionary joy.

No.23. The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded.

No 24. An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. Such a community has an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of its own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy. 

Finally an evangelizing community is filled with joy; it knows how to rejoice always. It celebrates every small victory, every step forward in the work of evangelization. Evangelization with joy becomes beauty in the liturgy, as part of our daily concern to spread goodness. The Church evangelizes and is herself evangelized through the beauty of the liturgy, which is both a celebration of the task of evangelization and the source of her renewed self-giving.

No 30. Each particular Church, as a portion of the Catholic Church under the leadership of its bishop, is likewise called to missionary conversion . . . It is the Church incarnate in a certain place, equipped with all the means of salvation bestowed by Christ, but with local features. Its joy in communicating Jesus Christ is expressed both by a concern to preach him to areas in greater need and in constantly going forth to the outskirts of its own territory or towards new sociocultural settings.

During the Novena in preparation for the feast.

No. 49.  I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.

No. 68. The immense importance of a culture marked by faith cannot be overlooked; before the onslaught of contemporary secularism an evangelized culture, for all its limits, has many more resources than the mere sum total of believers. An evangelized popular culture contains values of faith and solidarity capable of encouraging the development of a more just and believing society, and possesses a particular wisdom which ought to be gratefully acknowledged.

No.69. It is imperative to evangelize cultures in order to inculturate the Gospel. In countries of Catholic tradition, this means encouraging, fostering and reinforcing a richness which already exists.

No. 71. The new Jerusalem, the holy city (cf. Rev 21:2-4), is the goal towards which all of humanity is moving. It is curious that God’s revelation tells us that the fullness of humanity and of history is realized in a city. We need to look at our cities with a contemplative gaze, a gaze of faith which sees God dwelling in their homes, in their streets and squares. God’s presence accompanies the sincere efforts of individuals and groups to find encouragement and meaning in their lives. He dwells among them, fostering solidarity, fraternity, and the desire for goodness, truth and justice.

Sto Niño, Gugma Ko, 'Holy Child, My Love', 

I don't know who the singer and musicians are in the video above but here is the song sung by its composer, Manny Lapingcao.

The website of the Basilica Minore de Santo Niño de Cebu, Cebu City, is here.

1 comment:

Ruth Ann Pilney said...

Thank you for this beautiful explanation of a Filipino devotion that I hadn't heard about before.

Coincidentally I just read that my Bishop, Jaime Soto, visited the Basilica of Cebu when he was on a pilgrimage to the Philippines recently. Also, he will celebrate a Mass for that feast day for the Filipino community in our diocese.