When we think of evangelizing the culture–bringing God’s message to all–we usually imagine verbal or written communication. Blogs. Speakers. John the Baptist shouting in the desert. We rarely think of silence, yet there are times when not saying something is the more powerful witness.
Think of Mary. She was a young girl who had just found out that she was going to carry the Messiah. On the face of it, this was very a very cool position for a Jewish girl to find herself in, but there were serious downsides.
She could have been stoned to death for becoming pregnant before she moved in with Joseph for the second phase of their marriage. People might not have believed that the Holy Spirit had overshadowed her. Wouldn’t she have wanted to stand up for herself?
A girl from our present culture might have turned to Facebook or Twitter. Ranted about the inconvenience of a teenage pregnancy. Declared her innocence. Groups would have formed on both sides of the issue. Support Mary. Condemn Mary. Chats and tweets abounding.
About twelve years later, Jesus got separated from the group traveling back from Passover, and she and Joseph had to travel a day’s return journey back to Jerusalem to search for their child. They spent three days wandering a crowded, noisy city until they found him in the temple. If ever a motherly verbal tirade was called for, this was the moment. And yet, she merely pointed out that she and Joseph had been anxious about Him.
Mary, though troubled by many events and words, kept these things in her heart and pondered them. (Luke 1:29; Luke 2:19; Luke 2:51) She left them in God’s hands.
Anyone who has read a newspaper, listened to the radio, or searched the internet knows that there are many conversations and stories that seem to cry out for a response. The truth needs to get out there, and we’re the ones to do it, right?
I wonder if Mary’s response would be the better response. Instead of engaging in the hysteria, which is not going to change anyone’s position, why not ponder it in your heart and pray about it? Pray for understanding. Pray for courage. Pray for the people involved.
Mary trusted that God had a plan. She believed that he would work all things for the good, so she stayed out of His way and let Him get to it.
Don’t kid yourself that our times are more problematic than anything Mary had to face. We have the current political anger and people reacting with violence. Mary had the Jewish “Zealots” staging revolts against Roman rule and Rome’s inevitable reaction. We have the active persecution of Christians. Mary lived with Roman abuses against the Jews. We have a near-frenzied support of the culture of death. Mary, Joseph and Jesus fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s order to murder all Jewish boys under a certain age, and don’t forget that the murdered John the Baptist was her cousin’s child.
If large numbers of us responded in Mary’s way, would the rhetoric and rage cool down? Would people notice a large group of people who focused on the important, joyful aspects of life such as children and family? Would they then desire to share in the cause of our peace?
I have a unique opportunity, which like many gifts from God arose out of turmoil. My computer crashed, big time. I did a system restore and lost many files. (Backup, backup, backup!) My Facebook site restored many “friends” who had dropped off my feed. I have the opportunity to start over with them.
I’m going to be deliberate about my posts, sharing good news and encouraging others to do the same. I will, with the help of God and the Blessed Mother, avoid commenting on the negatives. Arguing. Self-righteous rants. Maybe I can follow Mary’s example and evangelize a small part of the culture through my silence on the ugliness.
Anyone want to join me?
P.S. I love Leonardo da Vinci’s St. John the Baptist. John says it all without words and with a smile.