|Photo by Corentin LAMY|
Allow me to paint you a verbal picture: My friend Jenny is in a black dress, goofy red Devo hat on head, bullwhip in hand, standing in the archway of a home - above which is stenciled, "Be still and know that I am God - Psalm 46:10"
That image of Jenny came back to me while praying the Rosary, and with it the thought - "How cool to think that when the Lord spoke those words to the psalmist, He already saw them stenciled above Jenny in her costume!" Then my mind started racing.
When God placed words in the mouths of the prophets or the minds of the biblical authors, He already saw us. God didn't just speak those words to the psalmist. In His omniscience He saw and personally addressed them to each of His children throughout history, as they would read and hear them at specific moments in their lives. Like St. Paul, that thought makes me cry out, "O the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!" (Rom.11:33). I bet it wouldn't take much reflection for each of us to recall a verse or two like that.
It may sound trivial now, but I will never forget being 15 years old and absolutely devastated by a breakup (remember your first love?) when my eyes fell on Jesus' words to Peter at the Last Supper, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand" (Jn.13:7). Those words went straight to my heart; Jesus used them to speak directly to me. And believe me, it's a message I've returned to many times since.
Another example, one that has rippled throughout millions of lives, was when Therese of Lisieux read Proverbs 9:4 and Isaiah 66:12-13 in a notebook of passages from the OT. Therese's Little Way of perfection burst into being when she read, "If anyone is a very little one, let him come to Me," and "As a mother caresses her child, so shall I console you. I shall carry you at My breast, and I shall swing you on My knees." Her encapsulation of the Gospel - that Jesus will lift us up through grace and bring us into His heavenly presence, if we but faithfully love and cling to Him as children - has encouraged Christians the world over!
Didn't St. Augustine have a similar experience? Paul addressed his epistle to the Christians in Rome, but the Holy Spirit meant its words directly for Augustine too. In his Confessions he wrote:
I seized, opened, and in silence read that section on which my eyes first fell: "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, in concupiscence" (Rom.13:13-14). No further would I read; nor needed I: for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away.What about you? What verse(s) has God used to speak directly to your heart? I would love to hear your stories. "The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open to the eyes of Him to Whom we must give an account" (Heb.4:12-13).
Cautionary Note: When a particular verse of Scripture seems to speak directly to you like this, you have to make sure that what you think you hear doesn't contradict the larger teaching of the Faith. Does the word you've heard in any way contradict a) other verses of the Bible? b) Sacred Tradition? or c) the dogmas of the Faith? If it does then you've heard incorrectly. That was the error Martin Luther fell into when Romans 1:17 and 3:21 "struck his conscience like lightning." He interpreted them to mean that we are "justified by faith alone," as opposed to by "faith and works" (James 2:24), as taught by Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church. In the case of the Reformation, "often enough, men of both sides were to blame" (Vatican II's Decree on Ecumenism, 3), but Luther's insistence on his mistaken interpretation played a significant part.