|Mary and John at the foot of the Cross|
Throughout the whole trial, the times at which Jesus chooses to be silent in front of Caiaphas and Pilate are remarkable. The first reading says "Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth." In his private conversations with Caiaphas and Pilate, and when he was in front of the crowds, there would have been opportunities to defend himself, to explain more fully who he was and what he was about, but Jesus knew that silence was the only answer when confronted with the mystery of human sin and redemption.
And then the silence of Jesus leads to the cross. On Calvary, Mary's silence is what catches our attention. Amidst the shouting and cursing, amidst the hammer and nails and spears and swords, Mary's silence strikes us as something holy, as something particularly right when everything else is so wrong. And so from the cross, Jesus gives John to Mary, and he gives Mary to John. In entrusting his mother to John, he also gives her to the Church, and to each of us, to be our mother.
|Michelangelo's Pietà at St. Peter's Basilica|
So the only response for us to so great a mystery is silence. At this point, when the enemies of God appear to have their victory, we go to the tomb with Jesus, and we wait in silence. The liturgy of a Good Friday begins in silence, and it ends in silence. The joy of Easter will come, but for now, all we have is silent adoration of the mystery of the God who love us so much that he died for us. So from now until Easter, let a somber silence mark your lives. There is sadness today, but there is peace because we know how the story ends. If we join Mary and silently wait through these days, then we shall be present when the Resurrection breaks upon us. But for now, the only response to so great a mystery is silence.