Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Silence and Joy!

In this reflection I would like to highlight two aspects of Easter which might seem contradictory, but they are aspects of our faith which co-exist in every authentic Christian.

The first is SILENCE
On Holy Thursday evening we ended our celebration in Silence: the whole Church fell silent at the stripping of the altar, at the watching and waiting with Jesus, at the beginning of his Passion. The bells were silenced, the lights were dimmed, a physical silence encouraged us to go deeper into an interior silence in the face of the mystery of a suffering God.

The Stations of the Cross on Friday morning led us through the physical and emotional pain of Jesus as condemned, Jesus as faltering on his Way of the Cross, till we reached the Solemn Celebration of his death in the afternoon –when Jesus experienced the silence of the Father. Our Liturgy began and ended in solemn silence.

The silence of the tomb continued all day Saturday, silence and stillness over all the earth as the body of Jesus lay in the tomb. In the silence of Holy Saturday we touch on inner silence of God, the silence of the descent into the realm of the dead, the silence of waiting. Then sometime in the deep silence of the night Jesus is raised from the dead: the Resurrection happens in silence. It is not seen by anyone, it is not heard by anyone, it is a miracle heralding a completely new kind of existence, for which we have no adequate language, no adequate symbols, no adequate explanation. It transforms our stuttering silence into the silence which is God.

The silence of the Resurrection means that silence can be a key to the greatest and most overwhelming mystery there is: that Jesus did not remain dead but broke through to Resurrection life, and infinitely significant for us, that we too can share his Risen life, already.

The second aspect is JOY
An irrepressible aspect of the Resurrection is JOY: the joy of overcoming death, the joy of the new kind of existence, the joy of God. The joy of the Resurrection permeates all Christian existence:

We encounter Christian joy already in the Annunciation :Rejoice. It is echoes in Mary’s song of Joy “My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”.

Jesus remarked that he taught the things of God “so that my joy may be in you”.

The disciples “rejoiced” at the sight of the Risen Christ and the Acts of the Apostles tell us that wherever the disciples went “there was great joy” not withstanding the fierce persecutions.

The Joy of the Resurrection is the Joy of New Birth: that we are changed, that change for the better is always possible. Pope Francis talks about “the great stream of JOY” into which we are plunged, a stream of joy which can purify us, which can wash away old way of living and doing things.

Easter joy is revolutionary: it gives hope a permanent and prominent role in everyday life. And without hope life would become meaningless and unbearable : “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain”

I suggest that there is a golden thread connecting Silence and Joy: it is the hidden life of the Spirit in us. “The life you have is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). This means that we can always relate to God through silence, it means that nothing –not even death- can quench the profound joy of knowing and sharing the New Life of the Risen Christ.

Easter Reflection 2015
From the Provincial Superior
Redempotrists of South Africa.
Sent in by, Fr Andrew Ogbu, C.Ss.R