Although we celebrated our Parish Golden Jubilee this September, 2011 was not a good year for me. We had a lot of funerals and there has been a lot of natural calamities here and abroad. My father’s brother, my uncle, died last August. My brother-in-law had an emergency brain surgery after a road accident and a first cousin in Singapore is slowly recuperating from a debilitating stroke.
I presume some of you have your own share of problems and anxieties. As we stand at the threshold of another year, the Church bids us to welcome it with the help of the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
She had just delivered her child when the shepherds arrived. They made known to Joseph and Mary the message of the angel. All those who heard it were amazed and Mary was silent. She kept all the things she knew about Jesus in her heart.
The late Pope John Paul II said that “Mary's example enables the Church better to appreciate the value of silence. Mary's silence is not only moderation in speech, but it is especially a wise capacity for remembering and embracing in a single gaze of faith the mystery of the Word made man and the events of his earthly life.”
He further said that “it is this silence as acceptance of the Word, this ability to meditate on the mystery of Christ, that Mary passes on to believers. In a noisy world filled with messages of all kinds, her witness enables us to appreciate a spiritually rich silence and fosters a contemplative spirit.”
God speaks to us in our silence. Noises within and around us distract us from the Word. That we are always busy in attending to our various concerns prevents us from being silent.
Things to do, places to go, people to see. We have an overload of things to do—debts and credit cards, mortgages and loans, utility and phone bills to pay, classes and sports activities, meetings and parties to attend, doctor’s appointments. We have an overload of people to see—children, grandchildren, dentists, doctors, accountants, lawyers, mechanics, and well, sometimes, a priest. We have an overload of places to go—church, school, work, gym, clinic, hospital, nursing home, shopping malls, Shoprite.
How can we find silence in this cacophony of noisy distractions around us? The cartoon character Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes once said, “God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I’m so far behind I’ll never die.”
There is a need for us to be silent, like Mary did. There is a need for us to treasure the Word in our hearts, like Mary did.
How did she do it? Deep down inside she had an abiding faith in a God, who makes good things work together for those who love Him. Deep down inside she cast her worries and anxieties aside. Deep down inside, she beheld the present, the baby Jesus.
Having the child in her heart kept the Blessed Mother reflective, silent and at peace. Jesus was all she ever needed. As we begin the New Year, may the protection and guidance of Mary, the Mother of God, continually remind us that Jesus is all we ever need in this noisy world. He is the only Word that can bring us silence.
1 January 2012