“A voice cries out…”. We don’t know who is obeying the order to “speak to the heart of Jerusalem,” but centuries later we associate that voice with John the Baptist, who announces the coming of the Savior.
The voice says what we long to hear, “Comfort, give comfort to my people.”
Will we hear that voice that offers love, reconciliation, peace and justice? The way to hear the voice is to quiet down. Will Rogers said, “Never pass up the opportunity to shut up!” Listening takes “shutting up” time. Friendships survive not only because there are words that need to be said, but also because the two companions can dwell in the silence that connects them. Good friends can talk, but silence can be a deeper experience and expression of their trust, ease, and commitment.
Advent is a special season that calls us into silence. Ironically, there is so much going on the weeks before Christmas: shopping, cards to mail, gifts to select and wrap, meals to plan, special events to attend, a house to clean and a tree to decorate. It seems there is no room, no time to quiet down. We need to struggle to find ten or fifteen minutes to be in silence.
Larry Gillick, S.J., in his reflection on the readings of Sunday, said, “We are invited by the season of Advent to almost hold our breaths as God does a fantastic athletic act of leaping from eternity into time, from heaven to earth, from Spirit to Flesh, and from mystery to history. We are invited to stand still as the Divine Artist begins painting and sculpturing our image within His.”
We can fully appreciate this truth only in the silence of our heart. If we remain too busy, we’ll miss those words of comfort being announced from the high mountain that God is in love with creation and the words of Jesus that the Father desires no one to be lost.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is the director of the Holy Cross Province Office of Mission Effectiveness and resides in Chicago.