The Child as a Gift
Feast of the Sto. Nino (Holy Child)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

In a recently established goldmining camp life was hard. The law was “each man for himself”. Any man who stakes a claim must be ready to fight for it and defend it to the death. Killings were common. There was no room for the soft-hearted. Then a baby arrived. A poor couple and their infant came. The husband and his wife cooked for the hungry miners. After work, the men would come and eat. One evening the baby was crying and the mother was trying to keep her quiet. A voice came from one corner, “Let her cry. It has been a long time since we have heard a baby cry.” He was the toughest man around. That evening, as the men quietly ate and the baby cried herself to sleep, there was peace in the camp.

Action starter: Have you played with a child lately?

What kind of world would this be if there were no children? The presence of children bring out gentleness even among the mighty. Our protective and generative instincts come alive when children are around. Somehow, deep in our consciousness the sense of hope and our responsibility for the future are awakened. For the sake of the children, we have to make this neighborhood, this country, and this world a better place.

Today, as we celebrate the feast of the Holy Child in the Philippines, we also honor the children. The Lord Jesus gave children a special place when he said, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belong to such as these” (Mk. 10:14). Jesus cared for people of “no consequence”. These were the poor, the sinners, the foreigners, and the children. He reversed the conventional priorities as prophesied by her Mother Mary in her song of praise, “He has brought down mighty kings from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly” (Lk. 1:52).

The fiesta of the Sto, Nino is a good time to reflect on our own atitude to children and our treatment of them. Children, especially infants are by nature not orderly, as some adults would like them to be. They cry, they soil themselves, they run around and bump on things, they play with the cat and attempt to climb furnitures. I know. At the latest count, I am also grandpa to ten of my brothers’ grandchildren.

We Filipinos love children. We should therefore be careful about certain advocacies that may be anti-children. The Catholic church is not against responsible parenthood. Nor is church against proper spacing of children and couples making the decision about the number of children they want. However, the church guards against certain practices and teachings that eventually would establish mentalities that are anti-family and anti-children, such as what are being promoted by the law being proposed in the Philippine Congress known as the Reproductive Health Bill.

The United Nations as early as 1959, came up up with the Declararation of the Rights of the Child. Philippine laws have been promulgated to guard children. We should support advocacies for the protection of children. Like Jesus in today’s Gospel let us embrace the children and bless them.