He will rejoice over thee with gladness,
He will be silent in His love
Love is not obliged to speak all the time (chronos) it is only obliged to speak when the time is right (kairos.) When the Son of God entered the world, as the Son also of Mary, in His divinity He, as it were, rejoiced with gladness that His mission to redeem and save His beloved mankind had begun. In His humanity He was silent as to the the meaning and purpose of the mystery He embodied for thirty long years. The silent love of Jesus was longer by far than His spoken love, yet it was nonetheless the most perfect of all possible loves.
The whole angelic host of heaven rejoiced with gladness over this birth into the world of the Word made flesh. Yet to us, to humanity, this rejoicing was for the most part marked by silence. As a type or figure of what was to come, and because their joy could not be wholly contained even in the vast heaven, some of them appeared to a tiny handful of shepherds. These men stood as representatives of the anawim, the humble poor, those who wait with patience and hope for the dawning of a kingdom filled with peace, and justice and love. To them the angels spoke clearly as they do still to their successors the anawim in Pakistan and Egypt and China whose lives of earthly darkness are lit by a supernatural light. More obscurely the heavens spoke to the Magi through a mysterious star so that the philosophers, scientists and students of the future would have a typical representation on the holiest of nights. Those who search the world and the skies for meaning will indeed find that true meaning when they accept the guidance of God on their journey.
Apart, though, from the shepherds and the Magi the greatest event ever to have happened in human history up to that point was marked throughout the world by the deepest of silences. The time was not right for love to speak. It was the same with the Blessed Virgin. To Gabriel she spoke. To God she spoke. To Man (male and female) she was silent. It was the Holy Spirit who told St Elizabeth about the Incarnation, not Mary. It was an angel that told St Joseph about the virginal conception, not Mary. About these mysteries Our Lady pondered in her heart and was silent. The time was not right for speech.
The silence of God is not a sign of His absence. It is one of the forms of His loving presence. The time is always right for Him to love us, and so He does. For those living a grace-filled life, redeemed by the Christ, the time is always right for Him to rejoice over them with gladness, and so He does. But the time is not always right for Him to speak. St James wrote “The trying of your faith worketh patience. And patience hath a perfect work; that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.” (James 1:3-4) The Father does not annihilate imperfection in His children. He patiently waits for them to repent, to convert themselves from what is imperfect and turn in love towards Him who is perfection itself. The children of God who are called to be perfect even as the Father is perfect, are taught through his silence to imitate Him also in His patience.
Is it ever kairos for us to be silent towards God? Indeed it is. Not the silence of ignorance nor yet the silence of enmity but, rather, the silence that comes from the deep stillness that abides in the very centre of our hearts. That fixed point where we hold all that is too profound for words, the feelings and emotions for which there are, and can be, no words. In silence we open this central axis of our lives towards Him who, in silence, receives it. We do not wait for His speech, nor He for ours. We abide together in the love that originates ‘in the beginning.’ The love that belongs neither to chronos nor to kairos but to eternity. It was born there, it will live there, and through faith and silence we experience it now, in this piece of eternity which is the present moment.
In the world rejoicing and silence are thought to be enemies of each other. You can be glad or you can be silent but not both together. And in the world it is so. In God, though, it is not so. He rejoices over us with gladness, He is silent in His love. We are called to respond to Him in kind. Rejoice with gladness in our Saviour, Jesus the Son of Mary, silently contemplate Him, silently love Him, through silence become wholly united with Him such that like St Paul we can affirm ‘I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me‘ (Galatians 2:20)
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The picture is Newly born Infant by Georges de La Tour