Christian Families Must Celebrate the Feast of the Holy Child by Fulfilling Transformative Role
A Reflection on the Feast of the Sto. Niño of Cebu
January 10, 2012
“Sto. Niño, Refuge of the Filipino Christian Family” is a theme that strikes deep into our hearts in our present age. Today, families are greatly attacked by worldly values, decadent media, internet, and modern gadgetry. Moreover, a sizable number of marginalized Filipino families are living in utter poverty.
We have to ask the following question, “How can the Sto. Niño today become the refuge of families who are landless, jobless, homeless, hungry; and which lack the basic social services such as health, education, housing and others? Our celebrations will be like empty clanging cymbals (Amos 5:21-24) if the above concrete realities of the least of the Sto. Niño’s brothers and sisters are not addressed effectively.
Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in his Christmas 2011 homily, said that God has appeared – as a poor child. In our world today, we must cry out to God, “We love your childish estate, your powerlessness, but we suffer from the continuing presence of violence in the world, and so we also ask you: manifest your power, O God. In this time of ours, in this world of ours, cause the oppressors’ rods, the cloaks rolled in blood and the footgear of battle to be burned, so that your peace may triumph in this world of ours.”
As Christians, we are God’s instrument in social change. Thus, the theme of the Sto. Niño of Cebu fiesta celebration will re-focus us to the liberating and transformative role of the family as the focal point of evangelization and the nucleus of faith-witnessing. This brings us back to the core of our being created in God’s image and likeness (Gen. 1:26-27) where the foundation of the family is to manifest that essence and to radiate God’s love to all.
God, who is love (I Jn 4:8), wants to share and carry on this love when He “inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion” (Familiaris Consortio [FC], 11). The family is the community of persons where parents and children, husband and wife are helping each other to realize the love they have received from God and to live with fidelity the reality of communion in a constant effort to develop an authentic community of persons (FC, 18).
Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2012 message for the World Day of Prayer for Peace, explained that “the family is the first school in which we are trained in justice and peace… May the parents encourage children by the example of their lives to put their hope before all else in God, the one source of authentic justice and peace.” Concretely, the family is the first school of values and deeper humanity (FC, 66) and a center to discern one’s own vocation and to accept responsibility in search for greater justice (FC, 2). “Parents …should realize that they are thereby cooperators with the love of God the Creator, and are, so to speak, the interpreters of that love” (Gaudium et Spes, 50).
The family is the “first community called to announce the Gospel to the human person during growth and to bring him through a progressive education and catechesis to full human and Christian maturity”(FC, 2). The parents not only communicate the Gospel to the children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as lived by them (Evangelii Nuntiandi [EN], 71). The family, as foundation of society, has an essential task in genuine societal transformation and a definite ecclesial task which places itself at the service of the building up of the Kingdom of God in history.
Just as the Lord Jesus “grew both in body and wisdom” (Lk 2:52) in the family, every family should provide the solid basis for Christian formation. Here, the young people can be strengthened and be trained for family, social and apostolic life, to build a new world where true democracy, equality, love, justice and peace reign.
As Christ lives,
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, D.D.
VISAYAS CLERGY DISCERNMENT GROUP
- Pope urges world to seek Christ’s peace in 2012 (catholicnewsagency.com)
- Pope Benedict XVI appeals for end to discrimination against Christians (guardian.co.uk)
- Pope Benedict XVI reviews 2011 with cardinals and Curia (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- Lolita Borbon : Philippines (socialactions.net)
- Pope Benedict XVI’s new friends: Greenpeace and the Socialists (ncronline.org)
- Pope: Financial crisis having “profound impact” (cbsnews.com)
- Face to faith: Europe’s crisis of faith | Pope Benedict XVI (guardian.co.uk)
- Europe’s crisis of faith – Pope Benedict XVI – The Guardian (richarddawkins.net)
- Pope Benedict XVI Names 22 New Cardinals (foxnews.com)
- God’s Love (fragranceofprayer.com)