Who Gives Gifts To Others On Their Birthday? Pope Francis!

Who Gives Gifts To Others On Their Birthday?

I recently stumbled across a reflection “Four Things All Want To Learn From Hobbits about Birthdays.”

Chances are you have seen at least one in the series of films, The Lord of the Rings. The series grossed over 3 Billion dollars around the world, winning 17 Academy Awards. In J.R. Tolkien’s imagination, Hobbits were a human-like race that inhabited The Shire. The hobbits developed the custom of giving away gifts on their birthdays, instead of receiving them.

I leave it to you to learn what the four things are. I also leave to you to decide whether their birthday traditions should exist only in Tolkien’s fantasy world.

Pope Francis as “real world” Hobbit.

There are all kinds of clues sprinkled over Pope Francis’ years as Pope. Here are a few…

  • In 2013, on his seventy-seventh birthday, he invited homeless people to his residence for breakfast to listen to their concerns and what the Church could do for them. The homeless even brought their dogs!
  • The following year, again on his birthday, he bought four hundred sleeping bags for those living on the streets around the Vatican.
  • Also in 2014, Pope Francis ordered showers to be built for the homeless in St. Peter’s Square, as well as a barbershop that would be open on a weekly basis.

Other examples of his unexpected gifts….

  • In 2015, he opened a homeless shelter near St. Peter’s Basilica. Joey, a homeless man, said this: “Everyone else spits on the homeless. Not here!”
  • In the very hot Roman summer of 2016, he treated the homeless to an outing to the beach and bought them pizza on the way back.
  • Most recently, he has opened a free laundromat (2017) and a free medical center (2018) for the poor and homeless near the Vatican.
  • He has also given shelter in apartments in the Vatican to refugees forced to flee war-torn regions such as Syria and Iraq.

A personal take on giving gifts on one’s birthday.

God doesn’t celebrate birthdays. But God’s birthday among us was the greatest gift to all humanity.

I cannot claim to have imitated God by giving others nicely wrapped gifts on my birthday. But it did occur to me to think: Every time I give a gift of myself to another, I am imitating the “Word” giving himself to us.

Now that’s a whole other level of the “regifting.” “Regifting” is taking a gift that has been received and giving it to somebody else, sometimes in the guise of a new gift.

(Some real-life thoughts on giving gifts on one’s birthday.)


Food for thought

  • How conscious am I of the gift that God gave in the Word becoming one of us?
  • How often do I give the gift of myself, especially to strangers (“Whatsoever you do…”)?
  • What are some of the ways I can give the gift of myself in my daily life?

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