"Give not that which is holy to dogs: neither cast ye pearls before swine, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turning upon you, tear you."
Matthew 7: 6
"If we see Our Lord's Words as a Verbal 'Sacrament' in a sense, offered for our spiritual and eternal benefit, and we realize that Our Lord offers Himself in the Actual Sacrament through The Real Presence in The Blessed Sacrament Itself, it is easy to see why He chose not to speak to Herod and the Bad Thief. Throughout His ministry, Our Lord offered Himself and His words to those either seeking These Sacred Gifts or innocently open and needing of Their benefit. He even offered Himself and His Words to all of us in general despite our clear unworthiness and sin because there remained hope that we would benefit and appreciate from These Graces. However, to offer these Beautiful Blessings directly to someone without the slightest inclination to render them even the most minute respect and consideration would be to desecrate their purpose and generosity."
On this day there is an eerie silence that permeates souls for the Savior of the world is within the tomb. Silence rules the day. We have read all of the words spoken by Our Lord during His ministry and at unique and critical points in that ministry. Each word or phrase carries profound and lasting significance ever-relevant to our existence and salvation. We are called to caress and embrace each of these utterances by Christ as golden nuggets from paradise fed to us for our betterment and guidance. However, have we considered the profound impact of Christ's silence as well? Have we stopped to consider just what Our Lord told us when He did not speak? Let us consider just two such cases.
Silence Faced With Mocking Ignorance
Confronted with Herod's mocking barrage during His Passion, did not Jesus merely stay silent and not answer? Is this not a prime example of where we part company with Our Divine Mentor and Master? Any person I know, including myself, would have been hard-pressed to absorb such insults and ridicule from a petty imbecile like Herod, yet that is precisely what Christ did. Why did He remain silent when faced with such abuse? Why did He not answer Herod's inane questions? The answer may lie in the fact that Christ is all perfect and all knowing. He knew that answering, that speaking when faced with this man would be pointless and useless. Herod was apparently beyond hope, beyond salvation, and hardened by his utter corruption, evil, and depravity. To have spoken to this man would have been to play the devil's game, to render worth to questions carrying no merit nor worthy of any response. Rather than being opportunities for clarification, for making a point, for furthering His Father's Purposes, these questions were only banners from an empty mind, an abandoned soul, and a shallow moral pit.
At least Our Lord saw questions from Pilate as allowing for some point to be made. His entire ministry is testament to His endless mercy, compassion, love, and openness to sinners and the marginalized. How then, could He remain silent before Herod? It seems that Our Lord's silence was simply testament to the complete uselessness of interacting with this man at that point in time. Herod was neither relevant enough to matter nor irrelevant enough to justify his own inane mockery. By his very behavior he mocked the seriousness, relevance, and importance of the proceedings, demonstrating his utter ignorance, arrogance, and incompetence to oversee anything beyond his pathetic self-interest. Too weak to prevent the murder of John the Baptist he wanted to spare, he was now too weak to prevent losing his own moral and eternal head. Risking and losing a life of an innocent man to please an immature child, he was now risking and losing his eternal life by mocking innocence to please his immature insecurity and pride. In short, Christ did not answer Herod because Herod answered himself with his own despicable, depraved, and dismal descent into the depths of damnation.
The Bad Thief
Scripture tells us that Christ did not answer another mocking fool as well. Hanging from the cross, Our Lord did not utter a word toward the Bad Thief who ridiculed and insulted him while blessing the Good thief whose humble contrition elicited Our Lord's mercy and compassion. Once again, silence carries great weight here as well. If one cannot be humble, contrite, decent, respectful, and understanding while hanging in guilt and ready to die, what hope can there possibly be? If hanging nearly naked from a cross quite guilty of sin and crime does not cause one to be the slightest bit humble, what could ever elicit such a reaction? If clearly and accurately marked for one's wrongs while facing innocence is not enough to render some sense of reverence, respect, and submission to that Innocence, what could possibly elicit such a response? It is clear that the Bad Thief was hopeless physically and spiritually, and so Our Lord did not deem it necessary to add to the Bad Thief's pathetic plight by inviting even more disrespect and mockery.
The Lesson of Silence
The first lesson of the above observations should be that we truly appreciate the value and blessing that Our Lord's words should have on us. Each expression, phrase, and story uttered by Christ should be as Heavenly bread handed down for our spiritual and eternal nutrition and benefit. We must remember to not waste even one morsel of this Divine Food, rendering it the value and significance that It merits. In a sense, Our Lord is present in each of His words, like a verbal Real Presence which feeds us if we are ready to partake of the offered spiritual nutrition. Just as it is a sacrilege to receive The Blessed Sacrament in mortal sin, so too it is a greater evil to receive Our Lord's Divine Words without the slightest disposal to render Them the respect and reverence they deserve. By remaining silent before Herod and the Bad Thief, our Lord was merely refusing them the verbal communion that He offered to every sinner and marginalized soul who showed a glimpse of worthiness and hope of benefit from such graces and blessings. Just as a worthy and true priest would refuse to give communion to someone he knew would desecrate The Blessed Sacrament, so too Our Lord refused to give His verbal communion to these two unworthy souls who would have merely spit upon this grace.
If we see Our Lord's Words as a Verbal 'Sacrament' in a sense, offered for our spiritual and eternal benefit, and we realize that Our Lord offers Himself in the Actual Sacrament through The Real Presence in The Blessed Sacrament Itself, it is easy to see why He chose not to speak to Herod and the Bad Thief. Throughout His ministry, Our Lord offered Himself and His words to those either seeking These Sacred Gifts or innocently open and needing of Their benefit. He even offered Himself and His Words to all of us in general despite our clear unworthiness and sin because there remained hope that we would benefit and appreciate from These Graces. However, to offer these Beautiful Blessings directly to someone without the slightest inclination to render them even the most minute respect and consideration would be to desecrate their purpose and generosity.
Imagine if God Almighty condemned the wicked on Judgment Day and then offered them all of the benefits just bestowed to The Righteous? Would this not be the height of injustice from a just God? Would it not be the ultimate in imperfection from a Perfect God as well? Would it not disrespect and desecrate the very benefits just given to the Righteous? If God would not do this with His benefits, would not that very same God and His Only Son not refuse to likewise desecrate the very words bestowed on willing or at least open hearts? In the end, the silence of Christ is golden because it tells us as much as His words do. Let us always strive to merit Our Lord's words and guidance!
Editor's Note: Heaven is once again under attack by those who would seek to ignore and overthrow God's majesty and authority. Gabriel Garnica, educator and attorney, submits regular insights and commentaries to remind and help guide readers toward a deeper and more assertive faith. Touching on topics and issues ranging from personal faith, doctrine, education, scripture, the media, family life, morality, and values, Gabriel's notes are music to traditional ears but unpleasant tones to those who have bought into the misguided notions so prevalent and spreading in today's Catholic world.