Silent Music

Isaiah the Prophet, fresco in Hermitage near Studenica, c. 1618. Licensed by Gmihail at Serbian Wikipedia under CC-BY-SA-3.0-RS.

14th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday (Year II)

Isaiah 6:1-8; Matthew 10:24-33

In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple. Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two they veiled their feet, and with two they hovered aloft. They cried one to the other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory!” At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook and the house was filled with smoke. Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar. He touched my mouth with it and said, “See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said; “send me!”

Divine mysteries are hidden and veiled; even the seraphim shielded their eyes from the brightness of their glory. The prophet Isaiah received the gift of seared lips and a contrite heart in preparation for his mission. Any words a messenger might use surely fall short of the reality. Words born of silent awe and the fear of the Lord have the power of the Spirit, “piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). 

Silence is one of the rarest and most precious goods in our busy, distracted world. Yet it is free and available at all times if we make space in our hearts for it. It is the place of encounter with the Father who cares for the least sparrow and has counted every hair on our heads. The songs of praise and thanksgiving of the chirruping birds are often more eloquent than all of our words. Their music invites us to tune in to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

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