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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

The Word and Silence

In the Nativity of the Lord, the cries of the world, the cries of the human heart and the cries of God coincide. These shared sighs and aches unveil silences overshadowed by Divine Power and out of which the Savior comes.

Though unaided reason is ignorant of His presence, God has never been indifferent to the plight of even the least of His creatures. He is always at work on their behalf. That is why we find Him throughout the Scriptures searching in the world's silences and poverties as a shepherd seeks out lost sheep in a wilderness or a father his lost son.

The Living God implicates Himself in the misery of the most forgotten, overlooked and rejected until He too is rejected, overlooked and forgotten. He is not disgusted with his children when they cry to Him no matter how lost they are. He eagerly takes them home and embraces the consequences of their sins, suffering them with the wisdom that knows that evil is not without limits. Love goes farther than hatred, lasts longer than resentment and bitterness. Love heals what we have destroyed.

Such a pathway involves humiliation in the short run and in the exigency of the moment looks as certain defeat. But God's love is never defeated. In the pure excess of His love, God chooses the humiliated and the humble even to the point of his own humiliation and death. But His love is stronger than death and the chaos of Hell has no hold on this Light. So He raises up those who are bowed down and refreshes them for the great journey home. The humble "yes" of those who choose to serve Him leads to all this and more. The object of his Divine Affection, these are the souls who He invites into even deeper silences, spacious places that the world cannot know, nights so dark that they alone can hold a light brighter than day.

For those who choose to trust Him, He invites them to go where no creature has ever gone before. He makes this invitation by entrusting to them His Son. The invitation is by way of faith, the decision to believe when this choice seems most difficult to make. This is because trust alone welcomes God and trust only becomes strong when it is tested. The Word comes to those who will welcome him in times of trial and hardship—He sees the strength of His Father in them, and this delights His heart. He comes in the vulnerability of a baby. He comes as the pure gift of the Father for no other reason than love and love alone.

Into the silence of the world, the Father has spoken his Word. Into humanity's deepest silence, the Word entered and resounded. That deepest silence was in the form of "let it be done to me." It is not only a silence of soul but also a silence of body, a taking flesh in a loving womb because so perfectly held in a humble heart. Sin does not know this silence but through this silence the Word communicates power to overcome sin. This same power waits to be enfleshed in our own lives too—a transformation in light and love.

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