"ALL roads lead to the Basilica. All roads lead to Sto. Niño."
Rev. Fr. Nelson Zerda, who celebrated the inaugural opening salvo mass, expressed deep appreciation for the sea of devotees whose collective strides illuminated the darkened city on Thursday dawn, January 11, 2024.
In a display of unwavering faith, thousands of devoted Cebuanos flooded the streets during the early dawn Walk with Jesus foot procession, signaling the start of the religious festivities of Fiesta Señor 2024.
The penitential journey, weaving through Fuente Osmeña Circle and traversing Osmeña Boulevard, reached its spiritual destination at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu.
For Zerda, this pilgrimage symbolized the community's readiness to embrace Señor Sto. Niño.
Undeterred by the pre-dawn darkness, devout pilgrims embarked on this symbolic walk, with all roads leading to the Basilica, reflecting the devotion of the Cebuano faithful to honor the revered Sto. Niño.
In his gospel, Zerda drew a parallel between the faithful's act of pilgrimage and the visitation of the three kings, emphasizing their shared purpose to embrace the birth of Jesus Christ.
Much like Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar's remarkable journey to Bethlehem, the devoted pilgrims of Cebu undertook a penitential walk, symbolizing a far-reaching effort to pay homage to Christ at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu.
Continuing the theme of embrace, Zerda delved into the psychological concept of imprinting theory by Austrian ethologist Konrad Lorenz.
Drawing a connection, he explained how this theory, associated with young animals forming strong attachments to their caregivers, resonates with the profound devotion and spirituality imprinted on the hearts of the devotees during Cebu's Fiesta Señor celebration.
The echoes of this spiritual imprint are expected to ripple through the collective memory of Cebu's vibrant faith community, influencing generations to come.
The priest also highlighted how Sto. Niño has transformed into a "magnet of love," translating to "Bato Balani sa Gugma" in Cebuano, a term beloved among Catholic faithful during the Novena mass.
Urging the public to embrace the Holy Child, Zerda emphasized not only individual devotion but also communal unity.
He encouraged embracing fellow devotees, celebrating the lightness of Sto. Niño, and fostering a sense of collective devotion during the Fiesta Señor. (KJF)