Today, December 11, is my birthday. I normally don’t make a big fuss over it and I rarely go out of my way to let people know when my birthday comes around. I have nothing against celebrating birthdays and I actually tend to make quite a fuss over the birthdays of those who are close to me but I usually prefer to celebrate mine with just family or very close friends. However, I’m making an exception for today. No, I haven’t really changed my position or altered my preferences. However, today I did some thinking about birthdays and the many gifts I’ve been given on this day and how so many others can’t or won’t be able to enjoy a similar celebration.
I first thank God that I have been given the gift of life, without which a birthday celebration would be completely impossible. In fact, I would like to publicly thank both of my parents for saying yes to life and for bringing me into this world. So many children won’t have that opportunity. On the day in which I celebrate my birth, approximately 3,000 unborn children will be aborted and denied the opportunity to make choices and to live their lives as productive human beings, all in the name of choice. On my birthday, thousands of unborn children will never have the opportunity to celebrate a birthday of their own. Also, in the past month over four thousand people were murdered by the Islamic State, including Christian children who refused to convert to Islam because of their love and devotion to Jesus Christ.
I thank God, as well as my parents, for my younger brother. We talk nearly every day and my wife recently pointed out that he is really my best friend. Speaking of my wife, I thank God for her: for her patience, wisdom and her gentle presence. I am thankful for reasonably good health. I am thankful that I have employment. I’d prefer a full-time schedule and a slightly bigger paycheck but I at least have the opportunity to serve my employer’s consumers by sharing what I’ve learned and empowering them by helping them to master technology.
I thank God that I was born Jewish into a Jewish family and that I have discovered the truth and joy of the Catholic church. I thank God that I have been given the blessings and the great privilege of receiving the sacraments. Regularly going to confession and receiving our Lord in holy communion has given me uncountable and unimaginable graces, without which I’d likely be a complete wreck. I am thankful that I have the freedom to practice my faith without fear of consequences, a privilege which so many in this world should have but don’t. I am so thankful that I can attend Mass any day of the week, which is one of the greatest joys in my life. I can visit a church any day that I wish and can pray the Rosary in public without being arrested, convicted or murdered merely because I am a Christian. This privilege should be enjoyed by all people in this world but sadly it is not.
While I’d like to thank all of you who sent birthday wishes, please remember to pray for those who cannot celebrate their next birthday, especially the unborn and those who are being constantly persecuted for their faith. Also, remember to thank God for the gifts you yourself have received, including and especially the gift of life.
Update: If you’re wondering what I might like for a birthday present, here is my wishlist. Please offer Masses, Rosaries, Divine Mercy Chaplets and other prayers for the following intentions.
1. For an end to abortion. The deaths of 3,000 unborn children every day is intolerable and does incalculable damage to our society.
2. An end to human trafficking or modern-day slavery. This atrocity is not just happening in Africa or the Middle East but is occuring in our own country.
3. The release of the Nigerian children who have been kidnapped by boko Harram and have been likely sold into slavery.
4. The release of all captives held by the Islamic State.
5. For Christians who have been driven out of Iraq to be able to reclaim their homeland.