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What happens when we hear God speaking in Scripture

Continuing our series about the year of The God Who Speaks, Rebecca Bretherton writes about when God started speaking directly to her through Scripture.


“The older I get the more I learn from Scripture.” This passing remark by an elderly friend changed my life. As a church-going Catholic, I had heard the readings at Mass for years but I hadn’t given them much thought.

If I’m honest, I had always considered the Liturgy of the Word at Mass to be the boring bit we needed to get through before we reached the Eucharistic Prayer. Being a bit dim-witted, I didn’t realise that God was speaking to me directly through the Bible, especially at Mass.

My friend’s comment intrigued me: here was an old man finding fresh inspiration from the Bible. I started to listen to Scripture. I realised that Scripture was where I would find the answers to my questions about what God wanted for me. The listening became prayer and led to more detailed study of the texts and the Church’s interpretation of them. Once I started to hear God’s message during the Liturgy of the Word, I discovered that His Word is proclaimed throughout the whole Mass.

Two moments particularly remind me that we worship with Scripture at Mass.  We sing ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty’ with the angels and heavenly creatures whom Isaiah and St John saw in visions (Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8). We join John the Baptist’s recognition of Jesus as the Lamb of God from St John’s Gospel (John 1:29).  The Bible texts are part of our Catholic life outside Mass. Our traditional prayers are based on Scripture. When we pray ‘Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.’ we are using words from Luke 1:28. 

God speaks to me through the Scriptures when I am praying with other people. The text comes alive when read aloud: I love listening to others reading at Mass and have become a reader myself. Our parish prays with Scripture at our Gospel Sharing meetings. In those informal gatherings, each of us can be inspired by other people’s thoughts and love of the Gospel.

On a global scale, I remember a powerful sharing of the Gospel at World Youth Day. We heard the Gospel proclaimed by priests in the languages of all the different countries represented at that Sunday Mass. It was an inspiring witness for the young pilgrims of the message of Christ’s universal Church.

I can now say, with my friend, that: “The older I get the more I learn from Scripture.” I am still challenged by my friend’s simple declaration of his love of the Bible and by the Gospel story. How can I proclaim God’s Good News in a way that will help others?  

That’s why I’m delighted that 2019/20 is The Year of The God Who Speaks. The Church invites us to learn more and to share what we learn from the Bible’s message with people in our everyday lives.

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