On Wednesday, we celebrated the birthday of John the Baptist. It felt strange to me because we usually celebrate the feast of a Saint on the day they die. A quick google reveals the church only celebrates 3 people’s birthday in a year: John the Baptist, Mary (8 Sep) and of course, Jesus.
It led me to think about what the significance of a birthday is? Why is it a solemnity? (thehighest rank of celebration, equivalent of a sunday mass, just without the obligation)
So while we blow off the candles and sing a happy song, we also celebrate John the Baptist’s purpose and mission, the whole reason he was alive in the first place. There was quite literally “nothing outside of God” (he was in a desert). What really struck me was the totality of his being, he had a very clear purpose of making Jesus known and that was it. All of it.
It brought me back to this moment in silent retreat when I pondered about my call. 10 years ago, I went for a camp, I was a facilitator, a very bad one but one nonetheless. I received a fuzzy that said that I was a person with a lot of zeal. I hardly found it comforting at that time because what would a 16-year-old do with zeal but zero skills right? But I looked it up in the dictionary and took it as a complement. And with all the personality quizzes I had done, it syncs with what I perceived as part of my character.
Now, 26-year-old me has realized that zeal is pretty much the only thing that got me through these past years in church, it’s central to my presence here, this zeal is too good, logical conclusion? This zeal is… God. The major perspective shift is from me as Jes the zealous, and with this zeal I will do something for God to “I am Jes, blessed by God with some good ol’ zeal for his purpose”. ALL good things come from God, it’s not merely a personality trait.
Bringing it back, birthdays should really be a day where we celebrate the purpose and mission of a person, the entire reason why they are alive, instead of thanking God that a person has made it thus far and would hopefully live many more years as joyfully as possible.
And of all days, today (sunday) is my dad’s birthday! And even though he isn’t around, I still celebrate his mission that amazingly and mysteriously still lives on.