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The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe Week 3-B, 21 January 2018
Isaiah 9:1-6///Ephesians 3:1-6,15-18///Mark 10:13-16

Our third Sunday celebration every January of the Sto. Nino is a special feast granted to us by Rome in recognition of our devotion to the Child Jesus. It is the second most popular Christ-devotion in the country next to the Black Nazarene we have celebrated last week. These two faces of Christ depict to us our deep faith in God like Hesus Nazareno that we are willing to bear all of life’s sufferings and pains while on the other hand our vibrant hope in Him filled with life like the Sto. Nino. This is the reason we hear again the first reading of the Christmas Mass at Midnight today.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwell in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing… 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.”(Is.9:1-2,5)

Here we discover the great mystery of God’s love for us who gave us His Son Jesus Christ by being born just like us, becoming a helpless and fragile infant and child. What an honor to be entrusted with the Son of God like a baby! Imagine how our mighty and powerful God is asking each of us to take care of Him, to love Him, and to believe in Him. Listen again to the prophecy of Isaiah: “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.”(Is.9:5)

The Child Jesus we lovingly call “Sto. Nino” is undoubtedly the “Prince of Peace” in our own history as a nation. National Artist Nick Joaquin rightly claimed in one of his writings that the Philippines was in reality conquered by the Sto. Nino because it was left behind by Magellan and his men in 1521, the image facilitated our Christianization and colonization by Spain until the Spaniards returned in 1565 under Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and called us Philippines in honor of King Philip II of Spain. For 44 years since Magellan’s death, the Sto. Nino was left to win wars and bring rains for bountiful harvests to the Cebuanos that He was widely recognized in the Visayas as truly a God above their anitos.

Three things I wish to share with you about the Sto. Nino as the Prince of Peace.

First, like every infant and child, the Sto. Nino brings light. The birth of every child is always a moment of brightness in every home and family. Every child enlightens not only the parents but everyone around because he/she shows us the meaning and value of life. Even the most hardened criminals are moved by the sight of an infant and a child, “lumalambot ang puso” that they pause and even abandon all evil plans and intentions they have. When we hold a baby, play with a child, we get rooted anew to the very truth that life is precious because it is at the same time fragile like a child. Peace can only reign in us when we learn to value human life, no matter what stage it may be. During the time of Jesus, only men were recognized as persons; children and women were never counted in census because they did not matter. St. Mark tells today how Jesus became indignant to the 12 who refused to allow the children to come to Him. All the gospel accounts teem with many instances of Jesus doing so many favors to women and children alike to show that life is precious, that “everybody” is a “somebody”.

Second, like the Sto. Nino, every baby and child always brings joy. When there is light, there is joy. Light shines brightest in the darkest nights; no matter how little a ray of light may be, it could always pierce through any darkness. And when there is light even if it is not so bright, we find direction in our lives. We may not see the distant shore or the end of a tunnel but at least with a little light, we can make one small step at a time. That is joy – the firm assurance that despite all the problems in life, even if they get worst, there is always Jesus who had become like one of us to save us, to redeem us, guiding us in life. The surest sign of peace is when there is joy amid all the darkness and gloom. Look at any image of the Sto. Nino and try feeling the joy coming from His inner peace as He lovingly looks at you while holding an orb, assuring us that “He’s got the whole world in His hand.”

Third, like the Sto. Nino, every baby and child signifies growth. Every couple knows this very well: a child is born to be raised to be fully grown and matured. The death of every child, no matter what the age may be, is always the single most painful pain every parent could experience. When there is peace, when there is light and joy, there is always growth. A great journey begins with a single, small step. The Sto. Nino is reminding us to always keep that child in us alive and well so that we experience rebirth and renewal every day, that in the process, we may grow and mature in faith, hope, and love. As we celebrate the Child Jesus today, may we share His light and joy to others so that together we may grow in Him in peace. Amen.

Fr.Nicanor F. Lalog II,
Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista,
Gov. F. Halili Ave., bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022