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.

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