Throughout my childhood I viewed silence as something to be endured rather than embraced. In school or church, if I wasn’t quiet I was reprimanded. In today’s Gospel, I’m reminded of another figure who was forced to be silent: Zechariah, who questioned God at the conception of his first child.
In many ways, I relate to Zechariah, questioning how or why God is working in my life. But the Gospel reminds me that our God is merciful. He doesn’t decide that Zechariah isn’t to have a son at all; rather, He gives him the gift of silence, so that Zechariah may see the mystery of God’s work unfold. After witnessing God’s mercy through the birth of his child, he chooses to honor the Lord by naming his son John. Then, when his tongue is freed he immediately praises God. Zechariah does not resent God for the silence but displays humility, thanksgiving, and submission before Him. This spiritual growth frees him from his muteness and brings him even closer to God.
During my time as a Georgetown student, my views on silence have changed, and I no longer view silence as something to be avoided. I’ve learned that silence is an essential ingredient to my relationship with God. Whether I’m praying on my own or reflecting with a group of peers, silence forces me to look inward, become aware of my thoughts and emotions, and acknowledge where God is guiding me. I don’t just find God before or after my quiet time; He is present in the silence, which allows me to listen to who He is calling me to be. And, just like those who witness Zechariah’s transformation in today’s Gospel, I too am left amazed and wonder what God will do next.
Alexis Larios, Class of 2018, is an English & Government major in the College of Arts and Sciences.