Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday word, 21 Dec 2007

Advent Friday3 (21 Dec 2007) Sgs 2. 8-14; Ps 33; Lk 1. 39-45
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
How It Works

The reading from the Song of Songs is only offered at mass on this weekday and not on Sundays. No other selection from the Song of Songs is used in the usual cycles. It’s rare use alerted me to ponder it. This is what I noticed.

The first half of the title of a Christmas carol captures what I offer for your reflection: “Silent Night.” Silence describes many things, including the interior workings of humans. Our thoughts and emotions don’t make a sound, yet they affect us powerfully. Their silence moves us to articulate what we think and how we feel.

The silent way in which God became flesh for us--God with us--and the first proclamation of Jesus’ birth was given to people on the margin of society, shepherds. Shepherds did not own the sheep they tended; they watched and cared for the property of others. The first to hear the angelic message of Jesus’ resurrection were marginalized people, too: women had no legal standing in the first century world of the gospel.

Exultation begins in silent awe before human mouths voice it, before we sing to [the Lord] a new song, as our psalm urged us.

The Annunciation to Mary of Jesus’ birth was shrouded in silence. Artists’ renderings of it suggest that. Mary, even the angel, may have been more vocal than scripture suggests. It gives the kernel of the divine invitation to Mary and her acceptance. Silence played its part: Mary was troubled and wondered what the angel’s greeting meant. Wondered and troubled
both begin silently. Mary’s journey to Elizabeth probably gave her plenty of time to allow silent movements to affect her before they erupted in her song of praise. Elizabeth was not different.

Nor are we. Our vocal jubilation is a good thing, but it isn’t first. God’s silent moving within us, and our own awareness and responses are first silent. Our fast-paced, hectic and noisy world distract us from that which allows us to recognize God as our beloved and beautiful one who comes silently and who will come in glory.

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