Silence of the Lamb
Lent is a time that the Church reflects on Christ’s Passion and Death as a Lamb in an intensely focused way. After Jesus was nailed to the cross, He spoke 7 short expressions. These statements are now commonly referred to as the “The Seven Last Words”. These words are recounted in Sacred Scripture and are found throughout the four Gospels.
For those of us who do not have these seven words memorized here they are:
- "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)
- "Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
- To Mary He said " Woman, behold thy son." and to John, "Behold thy mother." (John 19: 26, 27)
- And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: "Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)
- Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: "I thirst."(John 19:28)
- Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: "It is consummated." (John 19:30)
- And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost." (Luke 23:46)
As we contemplate His Passion and Death this season, we should remember that these words, although spoken nearly 2,000 years ago at Calvary, were meant for every generation. Nothing our Lord, the Lamb of God, said was without meaning.
Jesus as the Lamb of God even during his death and sacrifice on the cross, was teaching us how we should experience the passion in our own death....the death to self.
...with Christ I am nailed to the cross. And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me. And that I live now in the flesh: I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered himself for me. (Galatians 2:19-20)
And they that are Christ' s, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences. (Galatians 5:24)
And he said to all: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (John 9:23)
But just as we can learn from his words during the Passion of the Lamb of God, we can also learn from what he did not say just before the Passion. Isaias 53:7 says this about Him who was the Lamb that was slain....."He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb (or silent) as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth."
Picture Jesus before Pilot. He is being falsely accused by the Jewish leaders of two things.
- That Jesus was perverting the Jewish nation.
- That Jesus was subverting the Roman rule
Now if you or I was standing there being falsly accused we would say what ever needed to be said so as to save ourselves. But no. When presented with these false accusations we see the Lamb of God standing before his accusers.....silent!
And when he was accused by the chief priests and ancients, he answered nothing. Then Pilate saith to him: Dost not thou hear how great testimonies they allege against thee? And he answered him to never a word; so that the governor wondered exceedingly. (Matthew 27: 12-14)
The dignity of Christs' silence impressed even Pilate, who was confounded at His apparent restraint to speak freely. Normally the accused would try to defend himself.
Normally....but Christ was not your normal average person. He was there as a lamb. Taking up His cross that God the Father had given Him. Willing to except what ever was said against Him. Ready to endure the suffering ahead of Him.
Now what about us? As a true Catholic, we are described by scriptures as "sheep". Sheep who are hearing the voice of Jesus the Shepherd and following where He leads us.
My sheep hear my voice: and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)
For thy sake we are put to death all the day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (Romans 8:36)
Look at Romans 8 closer. St. Paul says "we are put to death all the day long" 24 hours a day. Then he describes some of the many means. "tribulation, distress, famine, nakedness, danger, persecution, the sword".
Do you realize that every one of these was things that Jesus went through is partially because he would not defend himself, because he chose to stay silent as a Lamb when falsely accused?
I believe when we as Christ sheep are falsely accused, we should consider that we should do the same as he did.
Be silent. Bear up to the accusations and the cross we must carry. St. Paul says that even though we are put to death, in the flesh daily (by tribulations, distress famine, nakedness, danger persecution and the sword), that those who are in Christ, that are alive in Christ (Romans 6:11) can not be separated from Gods love. (Romans 8:31). Paul says, "If God be for us, who is against us?" (Romans 8:31).
Oh I wish I could spend more time on this. Read and reread Romans chapter 8.
Learn to be a lamb who when faced by false accusations, is silent. Silent as the lamb...the Lamb of God.
Next week I want to show the description of the falsely accused and the false accuser. You will find this description in Psalms 108.