Traslacion (the term given to the devotion to the Black Nazarene) is in existence for more than 400 years!
If you have never been a devotee, it will be difficult to empathize with this kind of devotees. For Catholics in the Philippines, it will not be so difficult for most of us have devotions of some kind – either towards the Black Nazarene or to Mother Mary or to one of the saints. This does not mean however that non-Filipinos do not have their own devotion. This only shows how every person, in the depths of his/her being, is the sense of religiosity.
Some resource persons say Filipinos love the Black Nazarene for the symbol it gives to their lives. All the hardships and sufferings become meaningful when we relate all these to the hardships and sufferings Jesus Himself went through. This devotion is expressed through one’s ardent commitment and faithfulness. The feast of the Black Nazarene is very timely to celebrate with fellow devotees- a united front to tell the whole world – one or two days are too short to join the Traslacion or Procession. Love always becomes more deep because it is willing to sacrifice.
From a personal point of view, I say the devotion to the Black Nazarene or Mother Mary or a Patron Saint should be understood in the context it is envisioned to be. It is not to show-off although some do show off. It is not just to hang out with friends although some do join because the friends are there. It is not to ask for reward for the sacrifices although some do it and expect that their petitions be given.
At the end of the day, devotions mean something different to different people. What matters is that they believe in God’s presence in their lives even now as it was always thought of, 410 years before.