Celebrating the feast of the Sto Niño in the Philippines every 3rd Sunday of January reminds us of God’s [Jesus’] great love for children and the pristine innocence that is reflected through them. Expectant parents and their friends are filled with joy and thankfulness at the news of the child’s birth, and optimistic hope surrounds the household as they wish for a wonderful future for this nascent gift from the Creator.
Jesus invites the children to gather around him and even says that the Kingdom of God belongs to them. “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mk 10:14). He considers the children as pure examples of heaven’s citizens, as he continues to say that “whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mk 10:15). Jesus sets the child as model of simplicity, and openness to the parent’s word/will, considering our own childlike relationship to the heavenly Father who provides for our daily bread.
Jesus himself became a child, growing up in a normal family and learning from the teachings of Mary and Joseph. How they must have taught Jesus to pray, read and live the Word of God in the Old Testament, and prepared him for his future mission with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus must have asked questions too and they were ready to answer with the truth and together ponder the meaning and fulfillment of God’s messianic promises until the time came for Jesus as an adult to devote his life to his public ministry and paschal sacrifice. May parents maintain a spirit of welcoming joy and truthful dialogue balanced with discipline at all times, from the child’s birth to adulthood, so that experiences of conflict will be settled with humane attitudes and become steppingstones to deeper understanding and becoming service-oriented in relating with people, especially the less favoured ones. Let this be our prayer or call [“sangpit”] to the Lord – Pit Senyor!