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Ending the Silence of the Heart

The 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is you heart silent?

The are many types of silence in the world. Parents, you know this well – there’s quiet, and then there’s suspiciously too quiet. Some forms of silence are very good. In our liturgy, for example: before the opening prayer when I say “Let us pray” there is a moment of silence for us all to pray and gather our thoughts after everyone has received communion there is supposed to be silence for us to reflect on the presence of Christ within us in weddings and funerals and other rites there are moments of silence for everyone to pray over what is taking place. There’s also types of silence that is neutral. I read a book years ago about an author who wanted to explore the idea of silence, and so for a few months she moved to a remote cottage abandoned not just people but her computer, her phone, and everything else just to experience a natural silence. Her book talked about how that was blissful some time and quiet maddening others. But there’s also a type of silence that is bad, and that is the silence of the heart.

In this gospel parable, the king sends out his invitation to the wedding feast and he receives silence. The first group refused to come; no explanation as to why, just silence. So the king tries again, and the second time they ignore it or they go away or they even kill the servants. The invitation of the king is met with a different silence. So the king invites people off the street good and bad, but he soon finds that one guest wasn’t wearing a wedding garment. Now what the gospel doesn’t say because people back then would all understand, is that when you came to a wedding feast – especially a royal wedding feast – you were given a wedding garment to wear. The man without a garment had been given one, he just refused to put it on. And when the king confronts him, the king again receives silence. The king never learns the heart of the man, never knows why he didn’t put on the garment, because of that silence. Maybe the man felt he was not worthy of it, being just some commoner on the street. Maybe he had a long day of work and was real dirty and didn’t want to put a clean, new garment on before he could wash up. Maybe he just wasn’t in a good mood, and enjoyed the food and the warmth but wasn’t in the frame of mind to celebrate. But the king doesn’t know just as we don’t know, because the man never speaks.

All of us have been given the wedding garment, too. It happened at our baptism, when we were taken off the streets, good and bad alike, and brought into this celebration of Christ’s love for his bride the Church and the banquet of Heaven foreshadowed here in our Eucharist. And when we became a member of this Body of Christ, we were given our white baptismal garment and told to keep it clean from sin until finally at our funeral that garment will be spread over our caskets as the funeral pall. That baptismal garment is our wedding garment. Sometimes we wear it proudly and easily, but sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we forget that God embraced us while we were still sinners and we think that we aren’t worthy to wear it. Sometimes we struggle with sin in our lives and we think only of the dirt that clings to us. Sometimes we just don’t want to think about God and faith and want to be left alone.

So I invite you to consider this question: is your heart silent? Remember… the good and the bad were invited to the feast but it was only the silent who found themselves left outside. Our faith – both as the Church and as individuals – is a response to what God has done. He created us, and in the fulfillment of time He redeemed us through His Son, Jesus Christ. What lays in our hands is to respond. Not just in our actions and our way of life, but also in our words and thoughts. In our prayer. I am less concerned about someone who prays but struggles with sin than someone who doesn’t pray; the one who prays is at least talking to God and trying to find the way forward, while the one who doesn’t pray might be blind to many things. Perhaps after communion today you can take a moment in that sacred silence to let your heart speak. Tell God about what you think as you hold that baptismal garment and the graces He has given to you.


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