Bishop: Innocents’ Day is no time for pranks
A Catholic bishop is reminding the faithful that the Holy Day of The Innocents being observed Wednesday is not an occasion to pull pranks on people.
Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani noted that many Filipino Catholics had come to associate the feast following Christmas with April Fool’s Day because of the word “innocent,” which in the Bible refers to infants and young children but to Filipinos may also mean “gullible” or “naïve.”
“Filipinos think that when one is innocent, he is also easy to fool,” Bacani said in a phone interview with reporters Tuesday.
The bishop explained that the feast also known as Niños Inocentes was not an excuse to play practical jokes but a commemoration of the Biblical story where King Herod of Judea ordered the massacre of all male children aged two years old and under in the town of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus.
In the Gospel according to Matthew, three wise men, or Magi, had come to Herod in their search for the newborn Jesus, and asked the king if he knew about the child. Threatened by this infant whom the Magi called the “King of the Jews,” Herod asked them to return to him after identifying the boy so that he, too, could “worship Him.”
The Magi, warned in a dream of Herod’s real intentions to kill the infant, took a different route on their way back to avoid betraying the child. Enraged, Herod ordered the infanticide.
The slaughtered children were considered the first martyrs for Christ, Bacani said, citing the main reason that the occasion should be treated with reverence.
Some prelates, however, concede that playing jokes on Innocents’ Day has become customary among Catholics that it may now be difficult to stamp out.
They continue to encourage churchgoers to deepen their understanding of the feast, which was instituted by the Latin Church sometime in the 4th or 5th Century and traditionally celebrated on December 28.
One good practice, they said, would be to bring infants to church to be blessed on this day. With a report from Inquirer Research
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