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A Birthday Reflection

I discovered many years ago that going to Mass in the morning is a good way to start the day and a perfect way to mark a special day, like a birthday or anniversary. But when you have a job to get to, or lunches to pack, or kids that need a ride to school, it’s hard to squeeze Mass into your morning routine. Now that my husband and I are retired, we get up early and go to church six days a week (unless there is a hurricane raging or a foot of snow in the driveway). Saturday is the one day we treat ourselves to a little extra sleep and spend most of the morning in our pajamas. But not this Saturday. This Saturday is my birthday.

I remember one birthday, when my kids were young, when everyone was up and out of the house so quickly that I had time to go to Mass. Afterward, on the way out of church, I met a dear, older friend who, knowing it was my birthday, said to me, “And you came to Mass to thank God for His creation!” To be honest, I hadn’t thought about it, that my birthday was part of a much bigger picture. I’m not sure how to describe my faith in those years. It was certainly sincere and founded on a good base of Sunday School lessons and regular church attendance; but it was lacking in enthusiasm and in the desire go deeper and to know more. There is a beautiful verse near the end of the Christmas story in St. Luke’s gospel that says, “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). My friend’s greeting made me realize that I had some pondering to do.

As the years passed, God sent many more people into my life whose kindness and words of wisdom have helped me discover a much more profound faith. So, this year, like so many before, when I attend Mass on my birthday, I will remember my friend and the wisdom of her  words and thank God for His creation and for my place in it, and for the full and blessed life He has given me. How fitting it is that the readings for this Saturday (my birthday!) describe God as the creator, designer and architect of our lives. The First Reading, from Sirach 17:1-15, shows us that God did so much more than just make us. He composed us and shaped us and filled us with good things like knowledge and wonder.

God from the earth created man.…
He created for them counsel, and a tongue and eyes and ears,  and an inventive heart…
He created in them knowledge of the spirit;
With wisdom he fills their heart… 
He…showed them his mighty works,
That they might glory in the wonder of his deeds and praise his holy name.”

What amazing gifts: an inventive heart, knowledge of the spirit, wisdom and wonder and praise! He gave us all these good things and followed them up with one really big promise! I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant… I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Ezekiel 37:26-27).

That should be reason enough to go to Mass and thank God for His creation any day.


This is the full reading from Sirach as it appeared in the Lectionary for 2019, when this reflection was written:

God from the earth created man, and in his own image he made him.
He makes man return to earth again, and endows him with a strength of his own.
Limited days of life he gives him, with power over all things else on earth.
He puts the fear of him in all flesh, and gives him rule over beasts and birds.
He created for them counsel, and a tongue and eyes and ears, and an inventive heart,
and filled them with the discipline of understanding. He created in them knowledge of the spirit;
with wisdom he fills their heart; good and evil he shows them.
He put the fear of himself upon their hearts, and showed them his mighty works,
that they might glory in the wonder of his deeds and praise his holy name. He has set before them knowledge,
a law of life as their inheritance; an everlasting covenant he has made with them,
his justice and his judgments he has revealed to them.
His majestic glory their eyes beheld, his glorious voice their ears heard. He says to them, “Avoid all evil;”
each of them he gives precepts about his fellow men.
Their ways are ever known to him, they cannot be hidden from his eyes.
Over every nation he places a ruler, but God’s own portion is Israel.
All their actions are clear as the sun to him, his eyes are ever upon their ways.

Thanks be to God!



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