Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

‘I’m glad you were born’

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published June 30, 2014

My mother-in-law taught children with behavioral disorders for many years. One day she confided that some of her students had never had a birthday party in their entire life. I was utterly stunned because I always took these celebrations for granted when I was a child.

She decided to turn things around by hosting a classroom party for each student on their special day. This gesture let them know somebody cared enough about them to provide a cake, a card and a few simple gifts.

It conveyed the message that someone was happy they had been born!

June262014 MURRAY ‘I’m glad you were born’  001 I thought about the children whose lives are not celebrated when I read St. Peter’s description of Jesus as “rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God.”

Many people we encounter everyday have known painful rejection. They may come from shattered families where there were no bedtime stories, no regular meals, no clean sheets—and certainly no birthday parties. They never felt that they were “chosen and precious.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that every person who had birthday parties growing up automatically feels treasured in God’s eyes. Unfortunately, some families go through the motions, but something still may be missing, which is a true sense that the child is a gift from God.

There’s a heart-rending scene in the British TV series “Doc Martin” where the doctor’s mother calmly and cruelly tells him in no uncertain terms that she never loved him. She says he was a burden and she wished he had never been born.

Someone who has been rejected in this way might go to church and hear the message that their Father in heaven loves them. They might be told Jesus Christ died for them. But if their earthly parents didn’t cherish them, it would be extremely difficult to believe these words.

Fortunately, though, through the grace of God the Christian message of love can at some point reach the most bruised heart. Including the hearts of those who were unwanted children. And those who grew up in homes filled with abuse and neglect.

In a secular society it’s too easy to forget that conceiving a child is not something that happens because biological circumstances are just right. The word “procreation” itself reminds us conception has always been in the hands of the creator. Which means that every baby conceived is the result of God willing that child into being.

As British writer George MacDonald put it, “I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”

The Christian message conveys a radical love. It assures us we were special and chosen even before the day we were born. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” the prophet Jeremiah tells us. “And before you were born I consecrated you.”

This message could be broadcast on billboards, printed on T-shirts and whispered in the ear of every person hungering for affirmation.

These words are another way of God assuring us, “You have always been precious in my eyes, even before your birth. I brought you into being because I love you. And even if the whole world rejects you, I am truly glad that you were born.”

Artwork is by Jef Murray ( Lorraine’s most recent book is “Death Dons a Mask,” which features a handsome seminarian, Augustine Hornsby, who throws the whole parish off balance. Readers may contact the Murrays at