Photo of the Holy Child statue taken at Auntie Lea's home on a 2007 visit to Cebu.
Yesterday was Sinulog (see-NOO-lug), the liturgical feast of the Infant Lord Jesus, the Sovereign Holy Child of Cebu (Señor Santo Niño de Cebú), which is celebrated the third Sunday in January by Episcopalians/Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Aglipayans of Cebuano extraction. My mother hails from the Province of Cebu, the first island to be colonized by the Roman Catholic Spanish. As an American who has Cebuano ancestry, this local tradition is very, very dear to my heart.
Now, I suppose I could give you a list of all the REALLY cool cultural traditions, liturgical dances, purported miracles, weird superstitions, and old legends that surround the statue of the Sovereign Holy Child, but I think I'll save that for later in the week, should I feel like posting about it.
It's hard to place someone so helpless as a babe, as the ruler of our hearts and souls. It really does not make sense to make a king of a baby of questionable birth, carried by his mother. Of course, it would be foolish! How can a baby who cannot walk, talk, or fully see be the Chief of chiefs and Lord of lords?
Yet this is the God who dared and yearns (and still yearns) to share the fullness of his divinity with mere humans, and he had a plan "not by might, nor by power, but by his Spirit." (Zechariah 4.6)
As the Holy Spirit overshadowed the womb of the Virgin and Ever-blessed Bearer of God, so by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ our God incarnates through Holy Mother Church in its ministry and in the administration of the sacraments. As the Word of God is planted into our hearts, that seed germinates from the baptized dust that composes our human bodies and births Christ to the world. We simply and humbly offer our own frail lives, God "who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine." (Ephesians 3.20)
We are clay. God is the potter. And we become vessels of honour and of God's grace.
God didn't come by force or strength to overcome sin and death, but it was through the birth of a small child, God himself, that God came to deliver us from the power of evil. Therefore, let us humbly offer ourselves to give birth to Christ's redemptive and reconciling work again and again with a resounding "Fiat!" as we yield to the workings of the divine Spirit of Holiness that merges and tabernacles within us.
"I am the handmaid of the Lord! Let it be done to me according to your word." (St. Luke 1.48)
And so then, give birth to a King.
Lord Jesus Christ,
the Sovereign Holy Child of Cebu,
we consecrate today our thoughts of you,
only with you shall they be occupied;
our words, only of you shall they speak;
our sufferings, that we may endure them for your sake.
We beg you, Sovereign Holy Child,
illumine our understanding, kindle our will,
cleanse our body, sanctify our soul.
We wish what you wish,
because you wish, as you wish,
as long as you wish.