Once my son in his young mind asked me who is the baby figurine in our altar. I answered him that it is Sto. Nino. Then a follow up question was raised. He asked ‘Is he a saint? My answer was automatic, No He is God, He is the child Jesus.
Revering Sto. Nino is a unique Filipino tradition that dates backs centuries ago. As far as 1500s. In fact, the image of Sto. Nino de Cebu is the oldest Christian artifacts in the Philippines. It was given as a baptismal gift from Ferdinand Magellan to Rajah Humabon and his wife as they were baptized into Catholicism. Today, the original image is preserved inside the Basilica del Santo Niño. Its survival or preservation throughout the centuries is considered a miracle by many.
This unique Filipino tradition of giving reverence to an image of Sto. Filipino has gained criticisms from different Christian denomination. There are those who say that it is a form of idolatry because we worship a piece of wood, plastic or stone. There are some who say that it is not right to pray to a baby Jesus because Jesus, our Lord did not remain a baby forever.
Despite what others say, our family still keeps an image of Sto. Nino at home. You want to know why? We have five good reasons why. Please take note that the reasons mentioned here are reasons of our family and not of our church nor our community nor our country.
The very first reason why we keep an image of Sto. Nino at home is that it reminds us that the Lord Jesus indeed became 100% man as he was born, became a child and grew up like an ordinary man. As a Catholic Jesus is a true man and a true God.
Second reason is because Jesus is very important to us that we try to commemorate every stage or events in His life. We have images of Him on the cross, His praying in Gethsemani, His last supper, His resurrection and many more. This is what we normally do to our loved ones, right? We take pictures and cherish them.
Third reason is that it reminds us of the deep love of Jesus for children. As we look at the image of Sto. Nino, we remember the words Jesus said about loving children that we need to follow and obey. We remember that all children have equal rights that must be protected at all times and in all places.
Among these rights, the first and foremost that we must protect is the right to life. This is the fourth reason why we are keeping a Sto. Nino at home. It is to instill in the minds of everyone in our family that the mother of Jesus had also faced difficulties like many pregnant women today. Teen-age pregnancy, poverty, threats and rejection. With all these difficulties she decided to obey God, to continue with the pregnancy and to give birth to baby Jesus. The image of Sto. Nino is a reminder to our family never to support abortion.
Lastly, keeping a Sto. Nino image to honor the Child Jesus is a tradition that identifies us as truly Filipinos. This reminds our family to be proud of our nation.
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Santo Niño de Cebú