Fr. Francis Scaria
Someone asked me, “Father, Lent is a time for repentance and reparation; what about advent? What exactly is it meant for?” Although I instantly tried to answer this question relying on my catechism and theological learning, I realised that my answer was evidently inadequate. This made me think seriously through the question which never appeared to be so important earlier. It was while listening to the traditional Christmas Carol ‘Silent Night’ that I seemed to have bumped in to the clue. The Almighty descends into the womb of a young girl in Nazareth. She had just bowed before the will of the Almighty whispering “I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word”. The Son of God grew in the silence of the womb the virgin Mother. In the still night of Christmas she delivered her infant in the silent outskirts of Bethlehem and laid him in a manger. Joseph, the silent man seemed to observe a dumb silence all through his life pondering over the mystery of the divine child entrusted to his watchful care. The words of the psalmist were ringing in his ears “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10).
Zachariah had already become silent at the announcement of the birth of the precursor and when he began to speak, there was an eruption of the volcano of God’s praises (cf. Lk 1:64). Elizabeth too had remained in a silent seclusion for over five months (cf. Lk 1:24). The silence of the night of the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem was interrupted only by the angelic choir singing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom he favours”.
In her silence, Mary kept on treasuring the mystery of her child and pondering it in her heart so much so Luke refers to it twice in the same chapter (cf. Lk 2:19; 51). When silence is so vividly eloquent, why would anyone want to speak? Many a divine mystery continues to unfold in the silence of the lives of simple people, unnoticed by the mighty of the world. In our noisy world of incessant changes, Jesus manifests an option to be silent with a silence more expressive than thunderous shouts in the messy streets. Thirty long years of silence before the three short years of preaching! There seems to be so much more to listen to than to speak! Let me bow before the Mighty God who makes me dumb time and again by manifesting Himself more powerfully than ever!