It was the first birthday of my nephew otherwise known as golden child during the week.
This put me into a panic because I wasn’t sure what to buy him for a birthday present. I was going to get him a Liverpool shirt with Louis Saurez’s name printed on the back but he hasn’t gotten any teeth yet and it would be wasted on him. What do you buy the child who has everything?
I could have bought a very noisy toy which would drive his parents mad from six in the morning until ten at night. He already has enough clothes to open his own branch of Mothercare, he’s too young to watch TV programmes or films so I can’t buy him any DVDs yet.
My nephew’s beginning to crawl, walk and climb, so his grannies could do with a few vouchers to replace all the ornaments and objects he has broken. He now leaves a trail of destruction and mayhem no matter where he crawls and he seems quite chuffed about this.
When you enter his house everything is lifted up beyond the baby’s reach which means it’s out of my reach too.
Worse still the infant has a fascination with all things electrical and you have to keep watching in case he crawls between the television and DVD player to perform his own version of rewiring and manages to blow up himself and the whole house for good measure.
So at a loss as to what to buy him as a present I thought I should ask his mother if there anything her child needs.
After all, his parents have been caring for him this last year. Then very imaginatively I decided to open a bank account for him which I might tell him about in eighteen years’ time.
My nephew’s birthday party however was another experience entirely. It’s not often I find myself driving my mother and brother to the bowling alley at 12 noon on a Saturday. I had to ask for directions to Bananas which as any parent will tell you caters for birthdays for young children.
Unbelievable I noticed there was a painted red line indicating a height restriction so I sneaked past using my four feet something mother as a decoy.
My mother who is late for everything was in a panic to be on time for the birthday boy, so for once we arrived with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately the birthday boy was half an hour late so all we could do was sit and wait as children screamed around us as they tackled obstacles and dived into ball pools.
Eventually the child and his parents arrived and I was rather envious as I eyed up his new Liverpool tracksuit which he was determined to destroy as he tumbled about on the floor.
After the fun and games when I thought the excitement couldn’t be topped we had to move to the party room where all the children were fed with an array of chips, sausages and chicken nuggets as hungry adults looked on.
I never saw as many chips tested to make sure they weren’t too hot for the children. The perfect afternoon was then rounded off with a children’s disco.
In family situations and with close friendships normally it’s accepted we find it easier to show our love and express our affection for one another.
People manage to reveal their commitment and care for their loved ones in different ways determined sometimes by their personalities or their upbringing. Some men and women are openly affectionate and tactile while others are more reserved and find it difficult to display their emotions and feelings.
In the gospel Jesus goes to great lengths to describe what characteristics and qualities should set the disciples apart from the world.
At the basis of our faith has to be a personal relationship with God. Only by opening our hearts and souls to God’s approach can the Holy Spirit make his home in each one of us. If God truly dwells in our hearts then we become more Christ-like by learning to treat all men and women as our brothers and sisters.
This is a tough challenge, yet in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, we receive spiritual food to strengthen us.
Jesus as he prepared to return to his Father is preparing his disciples for the new road they must travel.
Only in returning to the Father can the gift of the Holy Spirit be sent upon the infant Church. The Holy Spirit not only grants a peace which the world cannot give, but the Holy Spirit helps all believers not to be afraid, because we are not alone when facing the troubles of this world. Importantly, through the Spirit we remember all that Jesus taught and said. Thanks to the Holy Spirit active in the church we begin to realise our God given potential as we are asked to open our hearts to all people by treating them like family, especially the poor, the lonely, the marginalised and all those who walk our streets as strangers far removed from home.