The Festival of the Human Being
If there’s something that truly gets my goat, it’s the fairly recent expression, “sorry po, tao lang!” (sorry, I’m only human) said in a most irritating, flippant and dismissive manner. I can’t stand it because it exemplifies such a backward consciousness that so grossly undervalues humanity. It is such a monumental cop-out that implies a spiritual untruth: that being human is an excuse for failure.
I write about this today as we celebrate The Festival of St. John, which is also known as The Festival of the Human Being because it is the only Christian festival that honors a human being—an extraordinary one but a human being just the same—John the Baptist.
I have been reading stories of St. John to the children and one of them tells how he could see the true being of everyone before him. If a man spoke lies, he would see toads slipping out of his mouth. If he saw someone of virtue, he would see light emanating from him. His message to humanity was simple: change. He knew the Christ was coming and that every human being had to change to be able to recognize and be saved by him. The relevance of this message has not dimmed.
From my readings, I gathered that St. John’s Tide is also a time for renewing the human conscience, though not so much the kind of everyday conscience that plays itself out in our personal lives. It has more to do with the collective conscience of humanity. Who are we and what are we to each other, the world, the universe, and the spiritual world? What does all this mean in relation to the quality and essence of our lives today?
When one thinks in these terms, our personal battles take on a different hue. Of course, we must make every effort to forgive, let go of anger, purify our thinking, learn to bring more warmth and love into our lives, bring our deeds out into the world towards the transformation of the earth—but for a purpose far greater than our own, individual evolution. St. John’s Tide is a good opportunity to take stock of the lives we have made today. It is also a special time to examine why being baptized by John the Baptist allowed Jesus Christ to fulfill his task of becoming Son of Man. Son of Man. What a profound term to ponder!
As I read up on this particular festival this year, the nagging question of the seasons surfaced again. In almost all the reading material I have come across, St. John’s Tide is spoken of as a festival that happens during the summer solstice; hence it is also a celebration of harvest and the blossoming of nature, and everything that takes place in the human soul during this time of year.
St. John’s Tide is a season for celebrating humanity as a whole and what it means to be a human being who straddles both the earthly and spiritual realms, no matter where one is in the world. So it doesn’t matter if in our part of the hemisphere, we are the end of summer. The spiritual impulse is the same. What truly needs focus is what we must work on – in ourselves — so that we can find and walk the path towards integration. The message of St. John echoes: change your ways and begin the inner journey towards becoming truly human, truly Christ-like—a fully integrated human being.
May we never again use our humanity as an excuse for not being the best we can be. Being truly human is something we must all consciously strive for. We are definitely not there yet, but making an effort to understand ourselves through the Christian festivals brings much needed clarity to every step. A fruitful journey to all!