I always imagine that Christ, at his birth, was so silent, so beautiful; great in his countenance and prince of peace in his manifestation from the Virgin Mary at his nativity.
The silence of Christ is a mystery to me in many place in the Gospel. One special place, is when Jesus would not speak at the time of his condemnation by Herod, by Pilate and by the Head-priest before the Sanhedrin.
However, the peak of the silence of Christ is the time of his crucifixion. As Isaiah the prophet says (Isaiah 53: 7): “He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he didn’t open his mouth. As a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is mute, so he didn’t open his mouth.”
It really strikes me to see the silence of Jesus. I can feel it as the summit of injustice and it makes me angry and sad. This month, we live in the blessed time of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We always recall how his heart was opened with a lance for our salvation. What did Jesus do that was wrong? What language can I use to appeal to the heart of humanity to make them see the innocence of my Lord and the power of His redemption for all of us, sinners?
With what tone of voice, or with what images I can borrow or create in order to make the youth of today’s America have sympathy on their Savior Jesus Christ? Since my childhood, Jesus was and is still my Hero. The Martyrs of Christianity were the personification of courage and the concrete signs of perfect love. Today, I feel that the silence of Jesus no longer appeals to the hearts of the young people in America. Christians (being all those in all Ecclesiastic families) who bear the Name of Christ are afraid of the Silence of Christ. We all speak about Him but hardly any one of us believes in the power of Jesus’ silence as the Gift of Redemption to the world.
Cardinal Robert Sarah in the book: The Power of Silence, (Robert, Cardinal Sarah with Nicolas Diat, The Power of Silence Against the Dictatorship of Noise, Trans. From French by: Micheal Miller, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2017) explains that “Noises are screens that betray the fear of the Divine, a fear of real life and death” (Robert, Cardinal Sarah, The Power of Silence, p. 230). I see it now; when Pontus Pilate was giving the choice to the people of Israel to choose between Barabbas and Jesus, they kept screaming: “Crucify Jesus” (Matthew 27: 20- 26): “Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes to ask for Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. But the governor answered them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” They said, “Barabbas!” Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do to Jesus, who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let him be crucified!” “λέγουσιν πάντες· σταυρωθήτω. But the governor said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they cried out exceedingly, saying, “Let him be crucified!” So when Pilate saw that nothing was being gained, but rather that a disturbance was starting, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this righteous person. You see to it.” All the people answered, “May his blood be on us, and on our children!” Then he released to them Barabbas, but Jesus he flogged and delivered to be crucified.
What makes people betray the giver of life at such a crucial time? Are people dumb? This dumbness of the people, allowed us all salvation. Yet, it made Jesus go to a crucifixion unjustly and as the innocent Lamb of God. The sad crucifixion of Christ is supposed to have become the source of joy for us, however, I still feel astounded and I can’t understand how the people who saw the One who raised the dead, who opened the eyes of the blind, who healed the lame, who cast out devils, who walked upon the sea.... and who performed many other miracles, unless they were dumb, could all shout repeatedly, “Crucify Him!” This Greek word: “StavroSito” means: “to impale on the cross; figuratively, to extinguish (subdue) passion or selfishness: crucify.” (Greek Bible Dictionary).
Looking back at these events now, we call them the events of salvation. It was that Jesus remained silent during this time and that He did not defend Himself that left people perplexed, or trying to test His power in order to push Him to take an Action. But Jesus did not want to show the Wonderful power of His Judgment. Instead, He chose the Power of Silence in order to reveal the Omnipotent Power of His Redemption for us, and to die on the Cross. This is the Mystery of Love, the Mystery that the Church at Mass calls: The Mystery of Faith, “Mysterium Fidei.”
So what can I call the noise that the people made at the time of the Condemnation of Christ besides a lie? Besides being an unjust call and a crime? Besides being a false accusation and a harsh animosity against the innocent One who came to reveal God’s love for us? I call it the “Syndrome of the Anthropos” or the Syndrome of mortal Adam. Humanity is afraid of silence. Silence is death for the weak Adam who is mortal. Applying this to the social traditions of funerals in western societies, Cardinal Sarah says: “The western world ends up disguising death so as to make it acceptable and joyful. The moment of demise becomes a noisy moment in which true silence is lost in weak, useless words expressing compassion” (Robert, Cardinal Sarah, The Power of Silence, p. 230).
This makes me conclude that the world reacts to silence with neurotic fears of the silence. The noise of the world against the truth of the sanctity of life is a syndrome of existential fear that overwhelmingly reigns in the insecure humanity who fears death and does not want to leave this earth. It is the response to the lack of Faith, Hope, and Love and not trusting in Jesus’ promises.
This is why the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the fountain of Mercy and Love. This is why Saint John Vianney, known as Curé D’Ars, says the priesthood flows from the Divine Heart of Jesus that is the source of Divine Mercy and Redemption to the dying Humanity in sin and evil. While Christians are living martyrs, they must not be saddened but they must have full faith in the power of the Cross. While we are in pain, as Christians we must continue to show joy as we trust and hope that our faith is centered on the event of the Resurrection of Christ. It is the foundation of our Christian Faith. As we are being filled with pain, we must maintain belief in the hope of the resurrection, we must be the apostles who every day, through suffering, joy and life of holiness, preach the perfect love that is in the Gospel of Good News.
Fr Andre Y Sebastian Mahanna