By Crischellyn Abayon
IT WAS a normal Monday for me and as I tuned in to Balitang Bisdak, a particular news item caught my attention: A Sto. Niño talked to three kids in Lapu-Lapu City. As Vic Serna was reporting and giving the viewers a walk-through of the situation in Sitio Saac II in Barangay Mactan, I could not help but be amused by the devotion of the people lining up just to get a glimpse, wipe their hankies and kiss the image. At first glance, it is easy to be swoon by such a sight but as Bobby Nalzaro put it: Do not believe such claims right away.
This news story has received ample air time in a span of days. There are claims of miracles, of being healed, of simply expressing their faith and of hopes that their prayers would be answered too. But just after a few days, the media released the interview of Sto. Niño Parish Priest, Fr. Benjamin Balsamo, saying that the kids may have lied about their claims that the image talked to them. Did that change the situation in the neighborhood?
The lines of devotees still sprawl from the tiny chapel to the main road and asked if they felt discouraged about the kids “lying,” the answer of most is still a resounding “No.”
For a nation composed mostly of Catholic church-goers and a background of 300 years of Spanish colonization, such fervent devotion is expected. Filipinos are a faithful people albeit calamities and crises test it.
The story of the talking Sto. Niño image broke just a few days after the annual Sinulog festival. The closeness of the events may have been interpreted by some as a miracle in itself. Some may even theorize that the Sto. Niño has a message for the Cebuanos and the world. But could it be that God has a message to tell that He allowed the image to talk to children ages 6, 4 and 3? Do we need such an occurrence to pause and intently listen?
As a people, the Filipino also loves oddity. It is when the rarest things or the toughest times happen that we often remember a Supreme Being trying to intervene or at the very least, we believe that we are in no way in control of all things that happen to us. We then kneel and submit ourselves to the will of God, hoping for the best and accepting the worst. But how often do we have to hear news stories of a dancing sun, healing dead or talking image? What would it take to believe and still be logical?
Does healing always have to involve flocking to far places to hold an image or wipe a piece of cloth in it? Will it do the sick good if they are brought to these places under harsh weather conditions? Is it not that the true measure of faith is extending a hand to those who need? Of listening to those who are never heard? Of being a good person?
It is a matter of belief, many people would say. Perhaps, no one can really fathom the depth of one’s faith and belief. No one can question either.
As for an observer and a believer, the talking image should not be the measure of our faith. It is not church attendance or the amount we drop on those baskets being passed around mass that measures how much we believe in God. It is not lining for hours under the scorching heat either. Faith is shown best when, amidst of the storms of life, we manage to utter words of thanks that we get to see another day. Healing happens when we learn to accept that even with a health woe or a broken heart, we are allowed to experience life and feel the love of those that surround us.
I believe that if God has something to tell us, it would be to love each other more. Love does heal and in love we can share our faith and let His church flourish.
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