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Interpretation: To the Child Jesus
Jose Rizal wrote the poem To the Child Jesus (in other references, Child Jesus) when he was 14 years old. A rather short poem only eight lines long, it follows the traditional Spanish pattern of poetry:
Why have you come to earth, Child-God, in a poor manger? Does Fortune find you a stranger from the moment of your birth?
The poem begins with Rizal addressing the child Jesus and asking him why he had chosen a lowly manger as the place through which he would enter the world of humanity. He further enriches this question by asking whether Fortune - in this case it could mean wealth or power or prestige or all of the above - had decided to stay far away from the Lord the moment he decided to become a man.
Alas, of heavenly stock now turned an earthly resident! Do you not wish to be president but the shepherd of your flock?
"Alas" is a word expressing concern, grief, sorrow or pity and is commonly used in traditional poetry. When Rizal adds this expression to the second half of his poem, he signifies that he, Rizal, as a man and having the perspective of a mere human being, finds a part of himself that grieves over how much the divine has given up in the process of his incarnation. He then ends the poem with a rather rhetorical question: Wouldn't you rather be Lord above the earth than be a mere shepherd of simple sheep like the rest of us?
Early in a Filipino child's education, he is taught the basic truths and tenets of Christianity. It is highly probable that as a child, Rizal had already felt deeply for his country and hand great dreams for his motherland. It was easy for his young mind to connect the life and suffering of Jesus, God incarnate, to the present struggles of the nation against oppression, as Rizal believed in non-violence and clearly found a firm ally in the person of Christ.