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Pope Francis: Be silent, so we can hear the tenderness of God


(Vatican Radio) Preparing for Christmas, we would do well to take a moment of silence to listed to God who speaks to us with the tenderness of a father and of a mother. That was the message of Pope Francis at the morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, on the second Thursday of Advent.

Beginning with the reading from the Prophet Isaiah, the Pope emphasized not only “what the Lord says” but “how He says it.” God speaks to as a father or a mother speaks to their children:

“When the child has a bad dream, he wakes up, cries . . . the father goes and says, ‘Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, I’m here.’ That’s how the Lord speaks to us. ‘Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you maggot Israel’ (Isaiah 41,13). The Lord has this way of speaking to us: He is near . . . When we look at a father or a mother who speaks to their little child, we see that they become little and speak with a voice of a child and with the manners of children. Someone looking in from the outside think, ‘This is ridiculous!’ They become smaller, right there, no? Because the love of a father and a mother needs to be close. I say this word: to lower themselves to the world of the child. . . . If the father and mother spoke to them normally, the child would still understand; but they want to take up the manner of speaking of the child. They come close, they become children. And so it is with the Lord.”

The Greek theologians, Pope Francis recalled, explained this attitude of God with a somewhat difficult word: “synkatábasi” or “the humble and accommodating disposition [condiscendenza] of God who lowers Himself to make Himself one of us.”

“And so, the father and the mother also say ridiculous things to the child: ‘Ah, my love, my toy . . .’ and all these things. And the Lord says this too, ‘you worm Jacob,’ ‘you are like a worm to me, a tiny little thing, but I love you so much.’ This is the language of the Lord, the language of the love of a father, of a mother. The word of the Lord? Yes, we understand what He tells us. But we also see how He says it. And we must do what the Lord does, do what He says and do it as He says it: with love, with tenderness, with that condescension towards the brethren.”

Pope Francis referred to Elijah’s encounter with God, when the Lord came to him as “a sweet breeze” (cf. 1 Kings 19,11ff), or, as it says in the original text, “a sound of silence”. That is how the Lord draws near, with that resonance of silence that is proper to love. Without making a spectacle.” And “He becomes small in order to make me strong; He goes to death, with that condescendence, so that I might live”:

“This is the music of the language of the Lord, and we, in the preparation for Christmas, ought to hear it: it would do us so much good. Normally, Christmas seems to be a very noisy holiday: it would do us good to have a little silence and to hear these words of love, these words of such nearness, these words of tenderness . . . ‘You are a worm, but I love you so much.’ [Let us pray] for this, and to be silent in this time in which, as it says in the preface, we are watchful in waiting.”