Saturday, January 17, 2009

Let's learn from a child

FEAST OF THE STO. NIÑO (B)
18 January 2009

Just last Sunday, I went to my place of ministry with a heavy heart. Somehow, I know the reason why.

You see, my apostolate is to take care of the chapel youth ministry in one of the far-flung barrios in the Parish of Mayapa. Not really to organize activities, but to make sure that the young people in that chapel are mobilized so that whenever the Parish would call for a meeting, somebody from the young people of that chapel would be present. But you see, there are no much young people in that area. I mean, there are of course young people in that place, but they seem to be unaware of the fact that there is such a thing as a ‘Sunday Mass.’ But then, I cannot totally blame the young people since the adults in that barrios are also missing in action.

There. More or less, that’s one of the reasons why I am disheartened to go there.

While waiting for my three young sacristans to arrive (I give them basic catechism before the Mass), I decided to take a walk within the vicinity. Seeing some actions happening in a nearby basketball court, I thought to drop by for a visit. It was nice to see some of the children playing basketball. I think most of them are about 10 years old. I tried to make a small talk with them, asking them basic questions I normally throw to new faces I’d come across with: their abode… their school… their favorites… subjects… TV programs… etc… That time, I wrapped that series of questions with an invitation for them to attend the Mass.

I was not sure if they’re just shy, but they seemed not to hear anything. I did not court any woman in my entire life yet, but that particular experience led me into sympathizing with those who got rejected. I was wretched.

The Mass was already about to start when I decided to move to another chapel (I divide myself, not literally of course, between two chapels). Moving away from that little church, I saw someone who made my heart leapt for joy. Erickson, One of the kids I met in the basketball court, was all dressed up on his way to the chapel. I threw him a wider smile as a sign of my appreciation.

He may just be one, in fact the only one, out of the many whom I invited, but seeing him going to the Church really made my day.

I recall this experience since this Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of the Sto. Niño.

In the Gospel following the account of the evangelist Mark, Jesus was indignant when his disciples prevented the children from coming to him. The word indignant is such a strong word. In St. Matthew’s version of the story, he merely used the word “scolded,” and interestingly, in St. Luke’s narration, nothing like that was written to describe how Jesus felt when his disciples warded off the kids from coming to him.

St. Mark’s (Mk. 10:13-17) account is worthy of note since his description of the event is supplied with so much vivid details on how Christ allowed himself to be vastly personal, awfully near, and exceptionally connected with those blessed little kids.

…And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

But, come to think of it. There’s nothing surprising with these motions. Christ is just being consistent with his outlook to be with those who are the poorest, humblest, littlest. He once proclaimed “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a large millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (cf. Mk. 9:42).

As we celebrate this feast of the Sto. Niño, of the Holy Child, we are invited to consider the many beautiful dispositions of children which earn for themselves outstanding recognition from a God who is so powerful.