Thursday, May 24, 2012

Words Fall Away When Truth Itself Comes

Attention should be paid to the various types of websites, applications and social networks which can help people today to find time for reflection and authentic questioning, as well as making space for silence and occasions for prayer, meditation or sharing of the word of God. In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated, as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives.

It is hardly surprising that different religious traditions consider solitude and silence as privileged states which help people to rediscover themselves and that Truth which gives meaning to all things. The God of biblical revelation speaks also without words: “As the Cross of Christ demonstrates, God also speaks by his silence. The silence of God, the experience of the distance of the almighty Father, is a decisive stage in the earthly journey of the Son of God, the incarnate Word …. God’s silence prolongs his earlier words. In these moments of darkness, he speaks through the mystery of his silence” (Verbum Domini, 21).

The eloquence of God’s love, lived to the point of the supreme gift, speaks in the silence of the Cross. After Christ’s death there is a great silence over the earth, and on Holy Saturday, when “the King sleeps and God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages” (cf. Office of Readings, Holy Saturday), God’s voice resounds, filled with love for humanity.
Message for World Communications Day, May 20, 2012

Reflection – First, I have to note: Pope Benedict XVI endorses my blog! Wooo! After all, what else do I do here but “help people today to find time for reflection and authentic questioning.” That’s my bag! That’s what I’m all about! Thanks, Holy Father!

It is interesting that he dives right from this somewhat prosaic matter of what websites we should frequent into a deep and powerful meditation on the role of silence in the giving of revelation. One minute we are talking about the excessive verbiage of the information age and its impact on our social life, and then all of the sudden we are at the foot of the Cross, with Christ crying out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” and in the silence of the tomb.

Clearly the Pope is calling us to really deepen this understanding of silence. It is not simply a matter of taking a break from TV, music and the Internet so as to process things. It is a question of God and how He comes to us, and our ability to receive Him in totality and in depth.

God spoke so much to His people: through the patriarchs, the prophets, through his Only Son. Words of wisdom and light, words of admonition and rebuke, words of consolation and hope. We have a whole Book full of the words of God, right?

But the deepest revelation of God was not done in words, but in deed and in silent suffering. God entered that realm of pain and death where words fall away and all that remains is love. And this is the fullness of revelation of God to us, the showing of his love to the end (cf. Jn 13). Both in Christ’s own silence in the face of his persecutors, his agony on the Cross, and in the tomb’s deep silence, and in God the Father’s unfathomable silence as his human children kill his only begotten Son, there is a deep—beyond deep!—revelation of God’s love for the world and exactly how far that love goes to save us.

And indeed these are not events of the distant past. The Eucharist, our most intimate encounter with Christ in this world, is given to us in silence. Jesus comes to the altar, enters our human body and soul in Holy Communion, is adored and worshipped—all in a totality of silence.

All this tells us that words have their place, words are necessary, words surround and cradle the Truth of things, but the heart of it all is silence. Words have their place, but their place is limited and partial. When Truth comes, words fall away, and silent adoration and loving union is all-in-all.

And with that, I will follow the Pope’s recommendation and stop writing now, so as to invite you to “make space for silence and occasions for prayer” today – right now, if you can.

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