Focus on Jesus!

Last Friday, thousands of people flocked to Manila to attend the largest fan’s day in the Philippines: the Feast of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo. Many, including the media, touted the event as a a proof of how the Filipinos love our God. But is it really the case?

True. The devotees, especially the hardcore ones, experienced a lot of ordeal on that day. Many came to Quiapo from their homes barefoot. Many where crushed, pushed around and stepped upon when they tried to get close to the image of the Black Nazarene. Some of them even fainted. But what is the meaning of their devotion? Is it necessary that they undergo those ordeals so that they could show how much they love God? Or does God require His flock to suffer to hear their pleas?

On the morning of the feast day, the Archbishop of Manila said in his homily that it is not necessary for anyone to touch the image of the Black Nazarene to show his or her devotion to Jesus Christ. What is important is their faith in the Lord and their love to Him. Instead of saying amen to the archbishop, the fanatics booed him off, they booed off the homily, and they booed off the truth.

What they did summed up the devotion of the fanatics of the Black Nazarene. Their devotion now focused on the image and not on WHOM it represents. They believe that the image had some miraculous power that will grant their wishes. What they are doing is a step away to idolatry and it is highly dangerous to their faith. The image of Black Nazarene is just an image, made of wood. It can’t walk and it can’t walk, and it can’t heal anyone on it’s own accord. It is by God’s will alone that anyone is healed from his or her afflictions.

The devotion of the Black Nazarene fanatics is commendable, but they focus those devotions beyond the image and make it show on the way they live. Faith in God and true Christian living is the key to a happy life. The fanaticism on the Black Nazarene must be stopped. The bishops should teach the fanatics that the Black Nazarene is just an image. These fanatics must understand that the Lord is the center of our life and loving Him and serving Him is the most important thing in this world and in our life.

Of course, there are devotees of the Black Nazarene who understands their Faith. They are not exaggerated when showing their devotion and they truly focus it to Jesus Christ. Such devotees are commendable and their number should increase.

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