The first reading for mass today ends by saying “Be silent, all people, before the Lord; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” The gospel today also ends with the disciples’ silence in front of Jesus when “they were afraid to ask him about this saying”. Silence is not a bad thing. Sometimes we are so busy talking all the time that we do not develop good listening skills. We are so busy talking, or thinking about what we want to say when the other person quits talking, that we do not really hear and understand what the person before us is trying to communicate to us.
Jesus emphasizes this to his disciples in today’s gospel, “Let these words sink into your ears.” What Jesus was trying to communicate to them did not make any sense, given the fact that the people were all amazed at Christ and the miracles he was performing and were probably exceedingly happy after witnessing many healings and miracles. Yet Jesus knew something they didn’t know. He tried to warn them to not get too caught up in what was going on around them and lose sight of the big picture of what was to come. He was going to be betrayed into these same human hands and we know that Christ later died by their hands, too. Temporary circumstances are deceiving sometimes when you are caught up in the middle of it. This happens a lot when a person is dying, they will often get much better shortly before their death. This spurt of energy that sometimes happens is a good thing though, because it enables the dying person to speak to those he loves one last time before leaving them. It is important to listen to them and just love them.
We don’t need to be so sad about death and our own future though. Really. It is nothing to be afraid of. One of the angels in today’s first reading for mass told the other angel to “Run, say to that young man: Jerusalem shall be inhabited like villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and animals in it. For I will be a wall of fire all around it, says the Lord, and I will be the glory within it.” The reading goes on to say “Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst says the Lord.” We will rejoice and celebrate when we reach heaven one day and stand in the Lord’s presence. Those who are left behind will grieve their loss, but the person who has died will be rejoicing to be in the Lord’s presence. We should actually be rejoicing with them, but we as human beings, have an emotional need to grieve their loss.
Time does not exist in eternity by the way, or that is what many of our theologians believe. People could pass through purgatory rather quickly. Jesus rose on the third day. This is the “Good News” that the new testament talks about so often, the Lord’s resurrection from the dead.
The disciples did not know what lay ahead for Jesus, “they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it.” If they only knew! Jesus would die, but then come back from the dead and “dwell in their midst” long enough for the disciples and all of mankind, to understand the reality of eternal life. Jesus knew the “big picture” and was preparing to die for mankind’s sins. His suffering, death and resurrection was right around the corner.
So today, let us be silent a little more than usual in order to try and better understand what is important in our lives. We need to set aside the noise and distractions and busyness of our lives sometimes and listen to God’s voice speaking to our hearts. He knows our future and we don’t, so we should try and let the Lord be the guide for our lives. Sometimes it is ok to just be silent and listen. The Holy Spirit will reveal what is important and needed in our lives right now, in light of the bigger picture of our life and our final destination in eternal life.
We just need to trust our lives to Jesus, the same way that the disciples trusted Jesus with their own future in today’s gospel.