Silence (say it gently and pause)
Since my homily last week I have been praying and thinking about silence. I have been thinking what a gift silence can be when it enables you to really listen to your own heart, listen to the spirit moving, listen to God’s voice speaking. When people go on retreat to Eastern Point they cherish the silence because they can hear the breezes, the sound of the sea, even dare I day the voice of God, resonating in their hearts. SAYING “Do not be afraid. Take courage it is I, I have loved you with an everlasting love”
Silence (say it sternly and pause)
But there is a kind of silence that is repressive, stifling, death dealing when it is imposed as it has been on people in regimes where one is forbidden to speak anything in opposition to the party line. Maybe it is our own American culture with the value of free speech that bridles against being told to keep silence; it is unfortunate that the Church too has a history of silencing individuals. Even St. Ignatius of Loyola was silenced by the Inquisition in Spain for daring to suggest that God’s spirit is free enough to speak to an individual soul and that one’s individual experience of God’s spirit needs to be respected and validated. It is the same tension that we have seen in the imposition of journalistic silence on Fr. Tom Reese, the former editor of “America” for being very “Jesuitical” and allowing multiple voices to be heard on many controversial issues.
I’ve been thinking and praying about the creative and destructive power of silence because everything about today’s feast of Pentecost is Sound and not silence. The scriptures today break the silence of that expectant group of disciples in the upper room. From the noise that is like a strong driving wind, to the disciples of Jesus, men and women, speaking in a way that all can hear in their own language, to the Pauline Proclamation, Jesus is Lord, to the strong voice of Jesus saying Peace be with you, everyone finds a voice that speaks of God’s remarkably creative action in the world.
Like the spirit that creates at the beginning of time, here is a new beginning, a union of all things in God’s Holy Spirit. At least for this Pentecost time there is no silence imposed. No one is told not to speak but rather everyone is emboldened to speak. There is no fear of repercussions because the Noise of the driving wind is percussion enough to shake the fear and trembling from even the most timid of those who believe in Jesus, those who whisper or shout Jesus is Lord.
I get carried away. That is what the Holy Spirit does, carry us away to believe and dream that the good news Jesus Christ is Lord is big enough to embrace all our differences of opinion, all of our competing theologies and ways of being Church. This is one day that calls us to hear and see differently. Not in the myopia of judgment but in the breath of forgiveness.