To Speak or Be Silent about God
Darío Mollá. I confess that I feel very uncomfortable with much of the “discourse” about God that I have been hearing in the midst of the tragedy that we are living. They are words that “take advantage” of this enormous tragedy and this terrible failure that is the pandemic of COVID-19 to talk about God, of our needs, of how poor we humans are and of how necessary He is. Something like “you see how mistaken you were.” I don’t dispute the part of that reasoning that is true, but I am annoyed by a certain tone and a certain opportunism involved in talking about God “now” that human weakness is being exposed in all of its dimensions. I refuse to believe in a God who in order to grow in importance and manifest Himself needs human failure. Is that the God who was proclaimed by Jesus when He said “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10)? Or are we reverting to saying that this life neither matters nor is worth anything and what really matters is the “other” life? And so, from that comes the question with which I started this reflection: is it time to talk about God or be silent about God? Maybe, in order not to appear so radical, I can formulate the question in another way. Of which God should we speak? How should we speak about God?
I think that the first thing we should do is to be silent and to be silent long before saying a single word. A time of necessary and painful silence, solitary and humble, in the face of so much pain built up during so much time. We don’t have the right to speak about God if beforehand we have not owned the silence, the tears, the powerlessness and the anger of so many good people … and some bad ones, but human beings nonetheless. And it seems to me to be immoral to feel oneself above or exempt from that experience of humanity.
Second, it is necessary to assume that this period is a time of temptation, in the toughest sense of the word, as it was (and in what a way it was!) meant to describe the period of forty years that Israel spent in the desert. Temptations (and sins) in the political arena, on both sides; temptations (and sins) in the field of economics and the activity of business and labor; temptations (and sins) in the area of living together, both as families and as neighbors, that can result in fractures and failures; temptations (and sins) in our personal lives, where each of us should be honest in recognizing our own. That self-recognition as sinners should make us merciful in our attitudes and humble, very humble, in our statements and proclamations.
And only then, not before, are we able to talk about God. If we do not do it, it is better to be silent.
But of which God and how do we speak? Of the God who “hides Himself” in the Passion, as St. Ignatius says. I have reread in these days the lucid words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
We cannot be honest without recognizing that we have to live in the world ‘etsi Deus non daretur’ (although God might not be manifest) … God forces us to know that we should live like men who are capable of living without God. The God who is with us is the God who abandons us! (Mk 15:34) Before God and with God we lived without God. God nailed to the Cross allows men to eject Him from the world. God is impotent and weak in the world, and it is only in that way is He the God who is with us and helps us. Mt 8:17 clearly shows us that Christ does not help us through His omnipotence but through His weakness and sufferings.
Yes. Sometimes faith becomes very obscure for us, hope is very costly, and love is the only possible language.