Silence

“Kichijiro wept softly; then he left the house. The priest had administered that sacrament that only the priest can administer. No doubt his fellow priests would condemn his act as sacrilege; but even if he was betraying them, he was not betraying his Lord. He loved him now in a different way from before. Everything that had taken place until now had been necessary to bring him to this love. ‘Even now I am the last priests in this land. But Our Lord was not silent. Even if he had been silent, my life until this day would have spoken of him.’” (P. 191)

  

The last paragraph of the novel is very touching and dramatic.  It touches on the two major burdens Sebastian Rodrigues faces.  He mainly battles with his faith.  Additionally, he struggles with both the Lord’s silence and the evolution of his faith.  Rodrigues tries to reconcile throughout the book with his struggle with the silence of the Lord.  While Rodrigues’ will is tested multiple times in the book, the reader sees Rodrigues encountering the Lord.  Rodrigues often wishes for God to show Himself.  Even more than Rodrigues wishes for God to show Himself, he wishes for God to justify and put an end to the suffering that has been done in his name.  In the end of Silence, Rodrigues realizes that God has been with him the entire time.  God is omnipresent and all knowing.  God does not just watch as his children suffer, but rather is with them through their agony and pain.  Through this insight, Rodrigues’ faith dramatically changes.

When Rodrigues attempts to make his way to Nagasaki, avoiding the authorities, alternately guided and betrayed by a Judas-like figure named Kichijiro, his questions mount, and where once he had found certainty, he increasingly hears only silence.  In the end of the novel, Rodrigues forgives Kichijiro, a character who frequently apostatizes and returns to the priest asking for his weakness to be forgiven.  Kichijiro is also interposed with the Biblical character of Judas as Father Rodrigues continually comes back to the question of what Christ meant when He told him to “go and do what you must do.”  Jesus had to allow Judas to exercise his moral agency.  Judas needed that freedom if he was to have any chance at being useful to God.  If we are to be judged by our works, as Jesus said, then we have to have the freedom to choose our works.  No one forced Judas to betray Jesus.  He wanted to.  Jesus wanted to ease the struggles of Judas by permitting him to betray him.  While the Lord struggled, Judas too also struggled.  Just like the forgiving of Judas by Jesus, Rodrigues forgives Kichijiro.  It did not matter to Rodrigues what the other priests thought of his decision, for Rodrigues knew that his choice is what God would have done.  Rodrigues accepts his faith and loves Christ even through the pain he had suffered.

Extra Credit Post: The Passion of the Christ

I watched the movie, Passion of the Christ.  Directed by the infamous Mel Gibson and made in 2004, this movie depicts the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem.  I found this movie extremely difficult to watch, as I was continually filled with emotions of sadness, anger, disbelief, and sorrow.  Having never seen this film before, I got to see what Jesus endured and the pain inflicted upon him, both physically and mentally.

This movie was a great interpretation of the story of Jesus for many reasons.  First, this moment touched upon so many key points in the last hours of Jesus’ life, such as the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Jesus by Peter three times, the Romans beating and whipping Jesus, Mary soaking up the blood of Jesus after his painful beating, the carrying of the heavy wooden cross by Jesus, Jesus’ hands nailed to the cross, and his crucifixion.  Second, this film truly depicted the people of the time, the Romans, Judas and Peter, and Jesus just as I had pictured them.  Lastly, this movie truly brought about strong emotions.  This story presented in this movie is really a heart wrenching and horrendously true account.  The Passion of the Christ is the Passion of Jesus largely according to the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Two moments that truly captivated me and moved me were when Mary soaked up the blood of Jesus on her cloth after his beating and when Pilate asks Jesus if he wants to be crucified or set free.  Both of these instances filled me with emotions.  Seeing Mary so fallen by the brutal beating of Jesus proves how wonderful and loving of a mother she really was.  It seemed to me that she wanted to preserve some part of him and through this action; she was able to do this.  On the other hand, seeing Pilate so conflicted with the decision he had to make was very interesting to me.  I never knew the great length he went to to try and get around Jesus dying.  Disappointingly, the crowd helps Pilate to make his decision: ordering the men to do as the crowd wishes.  I am Italian and knowing what the Romans did to Jesus truly upset me.  The fact that they were the first people to begin crucifixion also stuck with me as barbaric and cruel.

When this movie concluded, I sat for a while at my desk and pondered everything that I had just witnessed.  Watching this movie made me appreciate, even more, everything that Jesus did for man and creation, as he died for us to forgive our sins.  Jesus is the most special and important person in my life and I will always lead by example and do the right thing just as he would have done.