Our common birthday
“Good morning Daddy, happy birthday!” little Johnnie said while still rubbing his eyes, trying to get up.
His father was surprised and confused, thinking to himself, “Birthday? Is it my birthday today? Am I forgetting my birthday? No, it is in November. But why did he say that? Maybe he is still dreaming.” His father then greeted Johnnie:
“Good morning, Johnnie. You look just so cute! Sleep a little more. It’s only 7 o’clock.”
“I know, but I want to prepare myself well.”
Johnnie replied and then went to wash his face.
His father was surprised again, thinking to himself, “What does he want to prepare for? Oh my little Johnnie, you confuse me.”
After washing his face, brushing his teeth, Johnnie went to the kitchen. No one was there. Surprised, he went back to the living room where his ‘confused’ father was having his coffee and asked him:
“Where is everyone, daddy?”
“They’re still in bed as usual, my dear. Why did you get up earlier than normal?”
“I told you I wanted to prepare myself for our birthday,” replied Johnnie.
“What? Our birthday? What are you talking about, my son?”
Johnnie was surprised to see the surprise on his father’s face.
“You forgot it, daddy?”
“Forgot what? I don’t recall we made any plan for today. Perhaps I’ve been so occupied with many things that I forgot something?” his father asked.
Johnnie is a very patient person. That’s why he was going to help his father remember what he had forgotten.
“Daddy, I know you are very busy taking care of our family. But we do have a birthday for everyone at church today because it is the Pentecost. Our teachers told us last week.”
“Ah, that’s it. I know what you mean now. You are really good, thanks to your teachers,” his father said.
“Of course! Ah our teachers also gave us church homework about the Pentecost to do. Who does it well will receive a reward.”
“Really? What did they ask you to do?” said the father.
Johnnie replied, “They asked us to pay attention to the readings of the Pentecost, make some comparisons and draw some applications for our life. Now I need to wake up Mark so we can go to church on time.”
At church, Johnnie was happy to meet his friends. But he didn’t see some of them. Perhaps they went to other Masses. He had a good heart, so he hoped his friends would do the church homework well and get their rewards. As for him, Johnnie concentrated on the readings seriously and made two comparisons. First, there was wind and fire in the two events which took place about 15 hundred years apart: the giving of the Torah on majestic Mount Sinai to Moses (Exodus 19:16-19) and the coming of the Holy Spirit in the small humble room when the disciples of Jesus were praying together with his mother Mary. The wind and fire was terrifying in the former while comforting in the latter. Second, the speaking in different tongues was found in two events: when people built the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) and when the disciples received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-11). In the former, the languages confused and divided the same people. In the latter, the tongues unified all kinds of different people and made them understand one another perfectly.
Johnnie drew this conclusion: “The Holy Spirit, the true Spirit of God, always brings peace and unity to us despite our differences.” His application was practical: “We should pray to the Holy Spirit every day.”
The following Wednesday, the normal time for catechism classes, Johnnie received a great reward from his teachers. He was very happy and proud. However, he was sad that his close friend did not get anything. He was also scandalized when he knew that some classmates did not go to church on Pentecost Sunday for various reasons.
Anyway, back to the day of the Pentecost, after Mass, his mother suggested to his father to have a birthday cake for the whole family. Instead of making wishes privately, they joined their hands and prayed together to the Holy Spirit. Instead of blowing out the candle, they kept it burning until the end. They sang happy birthday to one another. That was the first time they celebrated their common birthday as disciples of Jesus Christ. They glad they did that, thanks to the teachers of Johnnie who taught him very well. They plan to do it again next year, but with better intention and preparation.
Let us then wish one another HAPPY BIRTHDAY.
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.