We believe that God communicates with us through Sacred Scripture. His word, which is living and effective, can speak to us personally in many ways. When I was in the novitiate, one day the novice director explained that the Scripture readings for the Eucharist on our birthday contain a special message for us from God. My heart sank. My birthday is July 29, the feast day of St. Martha. If you recall, when Jesus was a guest at her house, he chided Martha for fussing preparing a meal while her sister, Mary, sat at his feet absorbed in him and his teachings. I figured that each day on my birthday I would hear God him say to me, “Kathleen, Kathleen, you are busy about many things. Stop being a workaholic and pay more attention to me.” That scolding would be my birthday gift from God. But I wasn’t entirely correct.
Quite a while later, during Mass on my birthday, I heard the first reading, a passage from Jeremiah. It included the verse, “When I found your words, I devoured them. They became my joy and the happiness of my heart.” Coincidentally (?) for many years I had started my talks on Scripture with this prayer. Moreover, my life has been mainly centered on speaking and writing about Scripture. I felt that God had indeed presented me with a gift, one that touched my heart and made me marvel at God’s goodness to me.
At a weekend retreat on Scripture, I shared this birthday gift idea with the participants. At the end of the retreat, Kitt, the woman in charge, spoke to the group. She said that she was the oldest of nineteen grandchildren and perhaps her grandmother’s favorite. (At least her grandmother made her feel that way.) When Kitt went to the chapel of the retreat center and looked up the readings for the day of her birth, she was moved. They contained the Scripture verse that her grandmother had written in her last letter to her before she died.
A retreatant suggested that when we send a congratulatory card for a baby’s birth we could include a copy of the readings for that day. The child could grow to treasure them.
What is God saying to you on your next birthday? Celebrate the Eucharist that day and listen well. Or, if you can’t wait, locate an ordo and find out the readings for your birthday.
When has God spoken to you through Scripture in a way that was like lightning striking?