Thursday, May 27, 2010

Homily 5: On the Silences of God (as preached by an orthodx rebel)

"These things hast thou done, and I kept silent...." Ps. 50:21a

The silences of God are the great troubling aspect of His character, the one that we rail against the most. For believers, it is the source of the dark night of the soul. For unbelievers, it is thought to be a full-proof argument against belief. Both are haunted by the same wretched assumption: "If God were really there, then he would do/have done such-and-such." Of course, God has done such-and-such: by His Son and by His word. He is there, and he is not silent; but He does have silences. For human beings (meant for eternity but stranded in time), what God has not revealed remains hidden. Where He has not spoken, He remains silent. For now, we know only in part (I Cor. 13:9); that is the reality of our situation. But our incessant need to know everything to its fullest extent, for all the good that it has done, has often been our undoing. The tragedy of the twentieth-century was the realization of the limitations of human reason without the acknowledgment of God; the dawning horror of the unknowable devoid of the comforting truth that God encompasses the mysterious as well as the known. Without God, the unknown and unknowable become a terrifying void or a repository of our own limited opinions, either way serving as a reflection of our own emptiness outside of the Divine.

The paradox of the whole situation is that the silences of God are only bearable when it is the silences of God. If it is silence alone, silence without a referent, the revelation of vacancy at the foundations of existence, then all becomes nihilistic meaninglessness, a bloody campaign of survival cut short by the gaping maw of the grave, in whose belly the darkness and silence reign forever. The silences, the mysterious elements of reality, are only bearable when we know that there is a God behind it all who is working it all towards the highest good: "I will...set them in order before your eyes."

-Jon Vowell (c) 2010

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