I celebrated my birthday with my family — my wife, son, daughter, mother, and father — in Nazareth. Like most Christian pilgrims, I was drawn to this place because it was the home town of Jesus. According to Roman Catholic tradition, Mary received word that she would bear the Christ child in Nazareth, The current church building was constructed above the Grotto of the Annunciation, the site believed to be Mary’s home.
I was moved deeply to journey down to the grotto along with other pilgrims. It was a reminder of the depth, breadth, and width of faithful people following in the footsteps of other faithful ones who have gone before us.
Later in the day, after a delicious supper, we stopped by a bakery to find a birthday cake. We met Danny and Bashar, the father-and-son team that had baked the delicious treats that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was delighted to talk with these two wonderful bakers and even better people.
All of this made for a great day. I spent time with the people I love most. I journeyed to one of the most important places in my faith tradition. I met people from a different place with whom I shared great conversation. And, I created memories that will last a lifetime. A happy birthday, indeed!