ASIA/PHILIPPINES - The love of the Child Jesus, source of love for the poor in times of pandemic

Monday, 18 January 2021 faith   christianity   popular worship   poverty   pandemic  

Cebu (Agenzia Fides) - Devotees of the Holy Child Jesus are called to "reach out and love the poor , in the suburbs, in the midst of the pandemic": this is the exhortation addressed to the faithful by Archbishop Jose Palma, who celebrated yesterday, January 17 the feast of the Child Jesus, an event that each year marks the social, civil and religious life of Cebu, in the central Philippines, attracting millions of people. As Fides learned, in 2021 the celebration was low-key and masses were celebrated behind closed doors in the Minor Basilica of the Holy Child Jesus because of sanitary protocols. Thousands of faithful were able to follow the mass live online. All the lavish and large-gathering celebrations, open-air processions and cultural events that typically occupy the city have been canceled in accordance with government restrictions. "In the midst of a crisis like the pandemic, the baptized must stand firm in their love for Jesus and bear witness to the Gospel by caring for the poor, the vulnerable and marginalized", said the Archbishop, inviting the faithful to "take care of each other ". "The Holy Child Jesus needed the care of Our Lady and Saint Joseph. In an evangelical spirit of love and closeness, we are called to remain alongside marginalized or needy people in the existential peripheries, where we live but also in other places and in other nations", he recalled. Lee Lim, one of the local devotees, told Fides: “Marked by this pandemic, we continue to show our love for the Child Jesus. We pray that the pandemic will allow us to show our love for our neighbor, especially the poorest, the suffering and the needy". The image of the Holy Child Jesus of Cebu is linked to the origin of Christianity in the Philippines since it was brought to the archipelago five centuries ago by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan on April 14, 1521 as a gift to the Queen Juana who was baptized. Her husband, Rajah Humabon, and some 800 local natives were also baptized. It was the first Christian community in the Philippines. In 1565, when the Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in Cebu, a Spanish soldier found the image inside a burned house of a local resident. Since then, the feast and devotion linked to the Holy Child Jesus has become the most popular holiday in the region and one of the most important religious holidays at the national level. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 18/1/2021)