By: Rev. Fr. Orlando Mendoza

FEAST OF THE STO. NIÑO /(White) Cycle B/Year II (January 21, 2024) /Is 9:1-6/Eph 1:3-6/Mk 10:13-16

It is a common practice in our country, the Philippines, especially during the past decades that the children are brought by their parents to the priest after the Holy Mass to lay his hands on them. This is still being practiced especially in the rural parishes although such practice has diminished in urban parishes. This practice of the priest laying his hands on the children has its origin in the gospel of today. The gospel for this Sunday tells us that the parents brought their children to Jesus so that He could lay His hands on them, but His disciples prohibited them. Jesus told them to let the children come to Him and then “took the children in his arms, laid his hands on them and blessed them” (Mk 10:16).

The children have a special place in the heart of Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven. This is also manifested in the gospel wherein Jesus told them that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the children and that they could not enter Heaven without accepting it like the little children do. If we are to observe little children, we can see that they are dependent on their parents. They trust their parents and everyone without much hesitation. They are too innocent that somehow, they are images of those who are in Heaven. They do not worry about what to eat or wear; they know that their parents provide for all that they need. They know that they do not know anything and for this, they ask a lot of questions about everything and they simply do what their parents tell them to do.

The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the children because they are innocent and humble. Jesus warns us that to enter heaven, we must be like the little children: innocent and humble. We must be innocent in the sense that we must not only be malicious in our thoughts, words, and deeds, not harbor anything against others, and not entertain impure thoughts, but also trust others even unknown to us, always think good of others, and say and do only good things to others. We must be humble in front of God by always prioritizing God’s will and commandments, praying to Him every day, and attending the Holy Mass, especially on Sundays; and in front of others by seeing the better things or qualities of others, always respecting others even those who are inferior to us, and looking for opportunities to serve them.

Today we celebrate the feast of Santo Niño which reminds us of the humility of God who, having the power and glory of divinity, humbled Himself, took the form of the human flesh, and underwent the normal process of being a human being. Jesus, the Santo Niño, reminds us not only to be innocent and humble like the little children to enter heaven but also to love these children the way Jesus loves them. Jesus wants the children to be with Him as He said in the Gospel: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mk 10:14b). Let us then bring the children to Jesus, especially through the attendance of the Holy Mass. They may be noisy or restless, yet their voice is music to God’s ears and the Church is the home and the playground of the little children. Lastly, we must bring them to the priest after the Holy Mass as Jesus lays His hands on them through the hands of the priest, His representative. And as children of God, we may also bless the hands of Jesus through the hands of the priest. Amen. God Bless!

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