Dinagyang feast ‘Year of the Poor’-inspired

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ILOILO CITY, Jan. 26, 2015 – In line with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) declaration of 2015 as the “Year of the Poor”, thousands of devotees that flocked to Iloilo City on the occasion of the ‘Dinagyang’, were reminded about the role of the Sto. Niño in helping everyone live true poverty.

“The poor are not only those who are materially hard up; when we talk about the poor we refer to those who are poor in spirit,” said Fr. Czar Emanuel Alvarez, O.S.A., main celebrant and homilist of a concelebrated high Mass at the San Jose Parish Church on Dinagyang Sunday 2015 with the theme “Sto. Niño: Hope of the Poor”.

"Pope Francis" joins in the festivities of the recently-concluded Dinagyang festival in Iloilo. (Photo: Fr. Mickey Cardenas)

Turning to the Gospel, the priest said: “The poor are those declared by Our Lord in the Beatitudes as truly blessed.”

The key, being like a child

Alvarez, in the course of the homily, offered the key to comprehending the Gospel’s understanding of “being poor” that is contrary to the world’s standards.

“Look at the Sto. Niño, God who became a child, and discover the essential characteristics of children,” the Augustinian preacher told the congregation.

He said one quality of children is their simplicity in thinking, of desiring and of living.

“They can be made happy with simple gifts, like a piece of candy,” Alvarez explained.

Spontaneity, transparency

Second is spontaneity. Children get along very easily with other children, the priest said, unlike adults who can be contaminated with prejudices against other people.

“Third, is transparency and honesty, what you see in children is what you get. They say what is [on] their mind.”

The priest said another quality is humility. “They are aware of their limitations, be it physical, intellectual or emotional and they are not ashamed of it,” he explained.

Finally, said the priest, young ones have trust and dependence on others. Children know how to run to their parents and ask for help. They know that they have to be provided for their needs.

Alvarez made reference to the recent papal visit to the country to illustrate how blessed it is to be small like little children.

Imitating Jesus

“How close Pope Francis was to little children! He would even stop the pope mobile to allow the kids to be brought to him,” he added.

The priest explained the timeliness of the Year of the Poor for the faithful to be called to turn and become like little children.

“Unfortunately, when we grow up,” he said, “we lose the child-like traits that we need if we want to enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

According to Alvarez there is no need to despair since anyone can become like a child if he allows himself to become poor.

“Imitate the example of Jesus Christ: he is God but he humbled himself; he served such as when he washed the feet of his apostles; he taught not only with words but by example.”

“By learning from the Sto Niño we can recover our child-like characteristics and follow Jesus Christ more closely, the Augustinian friar added.

In Iloilo City the festivities in honor of the Sto Niño extend from the feast day on the third Sunday of January until the Dinagyang on the fourth Sunday of January, or right after the Sinulog in Cebu and the Ati-Atihan in Kalibo. (Fr. Mickey Cardenas/CBCPNews)

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