By Sister Danielle Gagnon

“Pilate went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus, ‘where are you from?’ Jesus did not answer him. So Pilate said to him, ‘Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?'”

—John 19: 9-10

When I was in junior high my friends and I cooked up a plan for our day off from school. We had just started to experience the bit of freedom that comes with being a teenager and looked for any opportunity to idle a few hours away at the mall, the movies, or some other adolescent haunt. 

So, Thursday after school, I told my mother what we had plotted for the next day.  With a quizzical look she softly questioned, “On Good Friday?”

I said, “Yes … ” hopefully.

Mom said, “No.” definitively.

My mother so seldom denied any request I made that it took me by complete surprise.  I was truly interested when I asked, “Why?”  She said, “Tomorrow is a day to be quiet.”

This instruction, gently made many years ago, rose from my memory to startle me as I prayed today’s readings.

In prayer, I found myself standing silent next to Jesus as he, crowned with thorns and mocked by a purple cloak, spoke no words in response to Pilate’s question in the praetorium, “Where are you from?”  In prayer, I found myself desperately wanting to fix things. I found myself wanting to beg Jesus to speak an answer that would lead to his release; wanting to run to hidden safety; wanting to appeal to Pilate’s curiosity and ambivalence; wanting to call back to the angry crowd that they got it wrong.

My visceral reaction was borne of fear.

Of course I was afraid standing silent next to Jesus. His life was on the line. And, there’s something more. The choice to stand silently next to Jesus was the choice to place my life on the line, too. The longer I stood with Jesus in silence, the surer I was that I wanted to go with him the rest of the way.

Such wonder … the places to which silence will lead.

Such mystery … the possibility of transformation grown in silence.

Silence is enough for silence sake. We, however, bear the name Mercy. And, for Mercy’s sake, we find ourselves on Calvary where from the profundity of our silence comes the intensity of our response to the crucifixions we witness.  Today is a day to be quiet. Let’s see where it leads us tomorrow.

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