Santo Niño Sinulog festival in Hilversum
Feest van de katholieke Filippijnse gemeenschap
In de H. Hartkerk in Hilversum werd op zondag 17 januari het Santo Niño Sinulog festival gevierd. Dit feest ter ere van Sr. Santo Niño, een beeldje van het Kind Jezus, wordt op de Filippijnen groots gevierd, vooral in Cebu, waar de oorspronkelijke Santo Niño wordt bewaard die door de ontdekkingsreiziger Ferdinand Magellaan (ongev. 1470-521) naar de Filippijnen werd gebracht.
Na de Eucharistieviering waarbij ik onderstaande Engelstalige homilie heb gehouden, werd de processie gehouden waarbij de traditionele Sinulog dans wordt gedaan door de gelovigen die daarbij de Jezusbeeldjes in de hand dragen, die op het einde van de viering opnieuw gezegend werden.
Het was weer een mooi feest, goed voorbereid door het comité, met koor en allerlei sponsors die onder andere voor heerlijke maaltijden hadden gezorgd.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today, we celebrate the Santo Niño-feast
and the Sinulog will be danced during the procession,
we feel one therefore with the millions of people
that come to Cebu and other cities in the Philipines
to honour the child Jesus.
In fact, this festival with ancient roots,
celebrated around the image of the Infant Jesus
that Magellan brought to the Philippines,
is a celebration of the beginning of christianity
and the acceptance of catholic faith;
it is a beautiful occasion to renew our committment
and profess even proudfully our faith,
and to ask the Lord,
who humbled Himself as a Child,
obedient to His parents,
that we may be humble, generous, loving
followers of Jesus Christ.
Not a fairy tale
The world around us
wants to be glamorous, rich and succesful.
We all know that life isn’t like that,
life is not a fairy tale
and we all have to struggle to go forward
and to the make the best of it.
How do we make the best of it?
Advertisements continually tell us
that we get the best out of everything
by striving after luxury, vacations, health,
a nice car, beautiful clothes etcetera.
And many of these things
we can appreciate,
but at the end
we will not become happy
by our wealth and power
and the advantages we gain.
More important is our inner strength,
the love of God and of our fellow-man,
that what is in our hearts
and what will still be valuable
at the end of our life on earth.
Let us live grateful, humble, happy,
let us live a loving life,
a life of hope and faith.
O, I know so many people
who in fact destroyed their lives
because they were focused
om things like being rich, powerful and famous,
while they were losing out of sight
what is really of lasting importance:
love, hope and faith.
He chose to be a child
Let us celebrate in that spirit the Santo Niño feast.
The Lord Jesus came on this earth.
He was powerful - omnipotent -,
He was rich - He owns everything,
all glory and honour are His -
He was really big - the greatest! -,
but He chose to be a child,
obedient to his parents, as we heard in today’s gospel;
and he chose to be born in a stable,
poor and simple, humble, rejected by others,
without financial means.
The only thing there existed
in that stable of Betlehem,
was love, Divine love, human love,
He just wants to gain our love...
Saint Faustina, the apostle of Divine Mercy,
once wrote these words:
“If the Redeemer had come to be feared and respected by men,
He would have come as a full-grown man
and with royal dignity,
but because He came
to gain our love,
He chose to come and to show Himself
as an infant,
born in a cold stable
between two animals,
laid in a manger on straw,
without clothing or fire
to warm His shivering limbs.
Thus would He be born,
who willed to be loved and not feared”.
Sister Faustina is right,
this is the way how He establishes
a loving relationship with us;
let us follow His example,
and be humble and happy
to spread love.
The desire to be important
Time and again in our lives,
there is the seducing force
of money and power,
the desire to be important,
to be honoured,
to be in the centre of attention,
to be the best and the greatest.
That is our human existence:
we are seduced
to magnify ourselves,
to put ourselves in the centre.
But what did we gain
if we did become rich
and ‘important’ in the eyes of the world,
but at the same time
not loved by others
and without true values and sincere beliefs
in our heart?
we become rich by giving ourselves,
we will get a fulfilled life
through our sharing love,
through our faithfulness,
our little or bigger sacrifices,
We celebrate this Santo Niño festival
in the holy year of Mercy,
that our holy father, pope Francis,
We are alle invited
to open ourselves for God’s mercy
and to become merciful people ourselves.
Maybe you know about Ebenezer Scrooge,
the principal character in the novella
of Charles Dickens
“A Christmas carol”
Scrooge is a cold-hearted, nasty person,
who despises Christmas,
that feast of mercy
and only cares for himself and his wealth.
But he is visited on Christmas eve
by the spirit of Christmas past,
the spirit of Christmas present
and the spirit of Christmas-yet-to-come.
You may know this beautiful story.
Scrooge comes to understand his past,
his life history and mental wounds,
that makes him ready for the next step:
having understood his own biography,
he gets touched by the misery of a sick little boy
and finally he starts to grasp how his life will end
if he would continue like he did before
and he changes his heart and his mind
and becomes a living, merciful person,
with the heart of a child.
Ask for a grace...
We too want to ask today
a special grace
of this holy year of mercy.
Sometimes we may not understand very well
what He is doing to us.
Then we are like Mary and Joseph in today’s gospel
when they found back their child
after three days of looking for Him and asking.
But if we try to keep these things in our hearts
and ponder them,
like the blessed Virgin Mary did,
we may come to understand more and more
and become merciful persons ourselves.
The child within us...
Today we are invited
to walk this path of spiritual childhood.
We do not have to walk this path alone
or by our own strength.
Let us put trust in Him!
Open your hearts
and let us be steadfast in doing so!
He will be there for us.
Like sister Faustina, the apostel of the Divine mercy,
Jesus Himself is living in us and through us
if we let Him.
Jesus comes to make our hearts His dwelling place
at every Holy Eucharist.
In a sense, He is born anew in our hearts
in every Holy Eucharist,
as we recieve Him wholeheartedly
spiritually and possibly also in holy communion.
I wish you all a happy and blessed
Santo Niño Sinulog Festival,
that you all may recieve
His mercy and love.