Paschal Letter of Father Robert M. Arida
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“For God is one and he has revealed himself through Jesus Christ his Son who is his Word
proceeding out of silence.”
These words of Saint Ignatius of Antioch (+ 98-117 A.D.) have the Gospel according to Saint John as their source and inspiration. From the realm of silence the pre-eternal Word of the Father takes upon himself our flesh – our humanity - and dwells among us. (Jn. 1:14) By his word, the Word is recognized as the Savior of the world. (Jn.4:42) Out of silence the Word comes to us as the one Great High Priest who, though sinless, is tempted in every way like us. (Heb.4:14ff) Being our High Priest, the Word is also the most pure offering. Indeed, the Word proceeding from silence shows himself as the lamb of God who takes upon himself our sin and our mortality. (Jn.1:29ff) As the one who offers and is offered, the Word ascends the altar of Golgotha where he dies so that we may live beyond the grave. Upon Golgotha the Word active, vibrant, authoritative, healing and transfiguring returns to silence; “It is finished.” (Jn.19:30) But in this silence the Word destroys hell. Indeed, in silence death is swallowed up by life.
What was accomplished on Golgotha continues. Yet, the reality of this victory is often difficult to apprehend given the ongoing devaluation of human life. For some Christians, the reality of Christ’s resurrection remains an elusive dream while for others it stands as a ritual of supreme beauty with no content. The words of death, misery, disease, war, terrorism and selfishness easily drown out the Word of Life. Its apparent silence renders it weak, misleading and ultimately false.
Here lies the great challenge of faith. As members of the Church - as members of the Word crucified and risen - we are beckoned to penetrate the mystery of silence. For only in the realm of sonorous silence will we be able - personally and corporately as the Church – to convincingly share with those around us that the Word of God is active and among us. Only from within this realm of silence can we proclaim Christ is risen from the dead and that indeed he is the final Word of victory – the final Word of Life in abundance.