In the Current of Faith
In our effort to expand our annual St. Paul Bible Quiz coverage, I went to Cebu for the Central Visayas eliminations last July. While waiting for the conduct of the exam that happened on a Sunday, I had the opportunity to go to the Cathedral of the Santo Niño of Cebu and was struck by the numerous Sunday Mass goers. Such was a sight for an ordinary Sunday. I could not imagine the pilgrims there today as our nation celebrates the Feast of Sto. Niño.
At the façade of the cathedral, I found an elderly who was selling candles of different colors. Each color is for a specific petition. I bought one that is for general prayers, as the woman said, even if I had particularly wanted to express gratitude for the blessings I received for the past twenty-five years of my religious profession, and to ask God that my beloved dead have a peaceful repose and that my siblings’ children pursue better education.
Sinulog, they described of the ritual pray-ers perform. With the candle in her hand, she raised her arm, shaking as if wiping the air with the candle in hand while her feet moved with the rhythm of the sulog, water current, surrounding the island. Earlier, I deliberately asked her to pray for me, and she did. I prayed with her, and suddenly it dawned on me that I felt connected to the “river of the faithful” flowing towards the fullness of God’s reign.
Paul in our Second Reading today stresses the need for praying for one another so that “the eyes of your hearts be enlightened” (Eph 1:18). Paul beautifully says it, “I, too, hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus and of your love for all the holy ones, do not cease in giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” When we ask the saints and holy Mary to pray for us, we, like Paul, acknowledge our common bond with Christ: God has adopted us to himself in Christ (Eph 1:5).
In the Gospel, Jesus further stresses this message with one situation: letting the child come into the circle of faith. Mark singles out the conflict. The disciples rebuke the people who are bringing their children that Jesus may touch them. Is not this also a beautiful scene reminding us how children, literally children, give life and color of our lives? Is not this a powerful image of promoting a culture of life by welcoming children in our midst? But the other level is that there are newly initiated Christians in the community of Mark who have to be accompanied as they grow in their faith. And if one believes that one is mature in the Christian faith, one must not be a source of discouragement for these new believers. Instead, one must welcome and support the other. A good example. In fact, one must also have the attitude like that of a child that is without prejudice, without judgment in accepting the kingdom of God so that its unfolding happens truly in our midst (Mk 13:15).
This is what God has done to us. Paul reminds us that the God who has blessed us in Christ “chose us in him, before the foundation of the world” (Second Reading). This choice makes us, people walking in darkness, see “a great light….a son is givin us; upon his shoulder dominion rest…Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace” (Is 9: 1, 5). In the figure of the Santo Niño we see these qualities of a God who has chosen us first, who is willing to live among us so that we realize our being brothers and sisters (adopted children of God), that “all the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God” (Ps 98:4b).
Our national bible quiz bee champions last year came from that island of Cebu. And as I marveled at how they showed their knowledge of scriptures and how that woman pray-er also made me pray fervently that Sunday, I thought of Jesus’ actions today vibrantly taking the children; “Then he embraced the children and blessed them, placing his hands on them” (Mk 10:16).
By Bro. Hansel B. Mapayo, SSP
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