Saturday, November 1, 2014
The Silence of God
Silence the book by the Japanese novelist Shusaku Endo is well known: a story of the Christian persecution in Japan in the 17th century. Briefly: the Jesuits in the homeland heard of the apostasy of one their priests who was greatly respected. Members of the community who were his disciples volunteered to go to Japan and find out what happened. A very dangerous mission.
The Kyunghyang magazine has an article written by, a homemaker and catechist in her parish. She takes her eyes off the main character of the book, Fr. Rodrigues who went to Japan to find out what happened to his mentor, and she concentrates on a minor, insignificant Kichijiro, the Japanese Christian fisherman whom they picked as their guide to smuggle them into Japan. The writer found it easy to identify with this character and she tries to enter his mind and make it known to her readers. She has him speak for her.
I accepted the mission but I was afraid. If the villagers find out, wont they consider me a traitor and beat and kill me? I notified the Christians of the arrival of the priests. Eight years before my brother and older sister refused to step on the sacred icon and were tortured and burned to death. I was so afraid I stepped on the icon and left the village. If I didn't apostatize they would have killed me. It is because I was not killed that now I am guiding the priests is it not? The attitudes of the villager has changed and I hope they will forget that I apostatized.
The police came to the village and began to search for the priests. The villagers who were happy to see the priests, over night changed, and pointed me out to the police. I am afraid. I don't want to die. Is my desire to live such a big sin? I wanted to live and stepped on the icon. I stepped on the icon with my feet but I did not abandon God with my heart. Isn't this permissible?
I became the guide for the police. In order to live there was no other way. I knew where the priests were: they threatened to kill me if I didn't find them. I didn't want to die. I told the police where to find them. As soon as I did I was sorry for what I had done, but it was too late.
Tomorrow the priest may be killed. I went to the prison that night to see him. Before it is too late I have to ask for forgiveness. I am not afraid of the prison guards, I asked the priest to forgive me, forgive me for my weakness. The priest said there are no weak and strong, and forgave me. After hearing his words of forgiveness I began to cry.
The writer tells her readers she was attracted to this weak, cowardly and sinful Kichijiro, because she was like him. She like Kichijiro is a coward, lazy, weak of heart, she has difficulty moving from thoughts to actions. She is easily hurt and fears failure. If it came to choice of saving her life or offending God she feels she would be one of the first to betray God.
Like Kichijiro she finds it easy to rationalize. Let alone giving up everything to follow our Lord, she finds reason not to give up anything. Love of my neighbor as I love myself, she finds going out to her neighbor with her fingers as great love. Like Kichijiro she meets many obstacles in her way,she complains, and when she falls blames others.
However, like Kichijiro she knows that God exists, God is always waiting for her, and when I return to him he will always receive me. I know that God is merciful and loves me.
She sees many people worthy of death on this earth. She doesn't want to examine why God doesn't act in these cases and remains silent. God is not suffering these persons, and not seeing how wicked they can be, but is waiting for the time they will understand what they are doing and receive his forgiveness. She
is one of those persons that needs forgiveness.