DECADES ago, theologians like the Jesuit Juan Luis Segundo, proposed liberation of theology. The proposal was not just about theology being an instrument of liberation but of freeing theology itself from limiting presuppositions. This further means reframing the way “theologizing” is done so that it would be capable of interpreting the faith in a world that is always changing.
As we celebrate the feast of the Santo Niño, it would be good to also propose a liberation of the Holy Child. For although He has been a source and symbol of people’s hopes, but there have endured some elements in our popular devotion that fossilize and fixate our faith. Not to mention, that the devotion to the Santo Niño has been used by some in the advancement of their entrepreneurial interests.
This is the part of the liturgical year when preachers would ask the faithful to reflect on the importance of the “child.” The need to imbibe a childlike character to enter the Kingdom of God is echoed and re-echoed as a constitutive element of Christianity’s ethical imperative. Yet, there seems to be something lacking in the discourse. Oftentimes, the emphasis ends up with “childishness” so much so that people tend to treat their devotion to the Holy Child as an “infantilization” of God.
While it is true, as well as it is valuable to underscore the very fact that the savior of the world was at one point a child but there is also a need to be critical in the way we understand the matter. There is a danger in ending up wishing for God to give-in to our childish desires; of wanting God to be a child in listening to our prayers due to our desperation to always receive a “yes” in all our petitions.
As adults we need to live with the reality that genuine Christian faith is not “fancy.” There are tensions that cannot but be part of our lives. There are sufferings that we have to go through. And that while we are to always remember that we are all children of God, but it is not in the Divine plan that we shall forever be immature and incapable of responsibly exercising our freedom as cooperators of our own salvation.
Luke 2:52 tells us that Jesus “increased in stature and wisdom.” Biblical commentators, mostly, take this to mean that although Jesus is of Divine origin, however he is truly human. Simply put, Jesus would never be a full person, in the context of salvation history, until and unless he would grow and fulfill the very mission entrusted unto him. The Jesus of the infancy narratives will have to reach the Jesus of the passion narratives. For without the passion, there won’t be any resurrected Jesus. In fact, Joseph Ratzinger in his trilogy “Jesus von Nazareth” would tell us that the infancy narratives cannot but be understood in the light of the Resurrection.
As we, once again, celebrate the feast of the Santo Niño, may we realize that faith is not expressed and lived in compartments. One feast is not a segment independent from the continuum which we call the “mysteries of faith.” May our devotion to the Holy Child, lead us to reflect that one day, we too are called to share in the passion, death, and resurrection which the Son of God will have to go through, without which he would not fulfill the Divine plan of saving humanity. To be saved we need to be humble, but as Christians we also need to stand up as adults and live or die for our convictions.
January 17, 2022
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