Monday, December 10, 2012

the kind of heartbreak stars produce

If there's one thing we can all agree on about the Gospels, it's that they're positively crowded with paralytics. And lepers. In approximately every other passage, Christ encounters some man incapable of walking since birth or a man born blind, or a paralyzed man appears through the roof (c.f., today's Gospel). But what it seems like Christ is most concerned about in all these passages is the faith present in these encounters. The Gospel today says: "When Jesus saw their faith." Which, if a paralytic was lowered through my roof, is probably not the number one thing I would be noticing. My interior monologue would be more along the lines of: *expletive* There's a paralytic coming through my roof

"It is important to acquire a fresh awareness of the fact that faith is the center of all things--the Lord said over and over again to those he healed. It was not the physical touch, it was no the external gesture that was operative, but the fact that those sick people believed."
--Pope Benedict XVI

"Prayer does nothing to alleviate suffering."
I read this line in Shusaku Endo's Silence, and its simplicity belies the perniciousness of this lie. It's the doubt that eats away at weakens our protagonist Fr. Rodrigues. But then I asked myself: do I actually believe in the power of my own prayers? Or do I still doubt? Have I bought into that crippling, paralyzing lie, or do I have the faith of the friends of the paralytic?

Throughout the Silence, the most prominent experience is the overwhelming, oppressing silence from the heavens. It wears and tears at your heart. The torturousness of that silence is palpable. Which makes it a brilliant novel, but difficult to read.

The answer to that silence from the heavens is not to fill the silence with our own talking. It is to make like the friends of the paralytic, to clamber onto the roof, make a ruckus to attract the attention of Christ. It is to bring our friend who is hurting to Christ. Each human being deserve a love that is better than the love we can offer them. We deserve a love that is limitless and eternal. Our own love that we have to offer will always fall short. It is temporal. Limited by our limited knowledge, understanding, and by our selfishness.
But when we bring that love to the eternal Love of Christ, then the silence is shattered. Shattered by the Lamb who submitted himself to slaughter and opened not his mouth.

Because that's the hope that Advent brings us: Christ has already come into our midst.

The hope of Advent is the Christ child Himself--the child whose very name assures us that God is with us. Even in moments He seems silent, He is with us. The most powerful exchange in Silence is when Fr. Rodrigues cries out in the depths of his heart:
"Lord, I resented your silence."
The response?
"I was not silent. I suffered beside you."
That His the Joy Christmas: that Christ has entered into the world. He shares in our sorrows, our Joys, our deepest depths and the seemingly inconsequential ordinary things of daily life. There is not one part of our human experience that He is not a part of with us. That total love, that complete self-gift, that complete sharing is crazy.
That's the insane love in which we dare to hope.

"But Our Lord was not silent. Even if he had been silent, my life until this day would have spoken of Him."

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