HomeHAPAGvol. 7 no. 1 (2010)

Political Context of the Infancy Narratives and the Apolitical Devotion to the Santo Niño

Ramon D. Echica



The historians’ quest for Jesus of Nazareth continues to influence contemporary biblical scholarship on the “political Jesus,” but their findings have not really made an impact on baptized Christians at the pastoral and popular levels. In an examination of one Filipino popular devotion, the Santo Niño (or the little Child Jesus), this essay realizes two facets of Christological tradition. On the one hand, the devotional prayers particularly present an “a-historical Jesus” that reinforces the status quo of domination and marginalization in society. On the other hand, such devotions are ways of the masses to survive the harsh realities of life, if not to offer an alternative world that subverts the existing social order. It is this double truth of popular devotions that can serve as openings for historical and biblical scholarship to help in the nurturing of the faith that is able to transform socio-political realities.