The Utter Silence
King Zedekiah refused to listen to Jeremiah. When Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem, Zedekiah’s punishment was to watch his ten sons killed. Then his eyes were gouged out and he was led off to jail in Babylon. The last thing he saw was his sons killed. Thrown into prison he spent the last years of his life in darkness and in silence. We are a long way removed from the time of temple and ancient Israel. It is hard to understand what they lived through.
Yet, even in our time, we have had very tragic events where human life was callously destroyed. About five years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Poland. It was a pilgrimage as every day we stopped at a different historic Catholic church where I was privileged to celebrate mass for the group. We saw where St Pope John Paul II grew up and lived. We were at the little church where St Margaret Mary Alacoque experience her visions of Jesus. Here is where Divine Mercy was brought into the Church in a special way. We also saw where St Maximilian Kolbe died in the concentration camp. I must admit, it was an honor to celebrate mass in all these historic and holy churches, but what was most memorable was the utter silence you experienced in walking around the concentration camps. We walked through the gas chambers and then through the crematorium. It was if you could hear the silent screams. You could feel the sheer terror of the dying. The smell of burning flesh was everywhere even when there was no fire. And then you would hear the silence again. The sidewalks were made with crushed rock and they would crunch under foot. Stone stairs had grooves in the middle of the steps were millions of feet had worn down the rock. And still you could hear the silence. You would walk by rooms that were about 12 feet wide and 14 feet long. One room was filled half full with eyeglasses. Honestly, half full with eyeglasses. The people were told they would all get new glasses. The next room of the same size was half full of shoes. They were told they would get new shoes. Half full rooms with no pathway in them, just shoes all over. Baby shoes, women’s shoes, men’s shoes. And still you could hear the silence.
The leper in today’s gospel would have been removed from his work, from the temple, and even turned away by his family. How do you treat today’s lepers? Who do you know that is treated like a leper?
Find some time today to just spend some silence with God.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Fr Ed Anderson
St. Joseph Church – Rice Lake
Holy Trinity – Haugen
St. John the Evangelist – Birchwood
Our Lady of Lourdes – Dobie