In the Office of Reading for today’s celebration, Pope Paul VI talks about the silence of the Holy Family. This seems like such a strange statement. As many of us know, families rarely seem to be “silent” especially when the children are young and there is need for much activity. Pope Paul VI, however, is not talking about a merely exterior silence. The silence of Nazareth is that of activity which flows from and leads to communion with God. It is the silence of a heart that seeks God in all things.
I recently visited a family whom I have known for many years. They were interested to hear about my studies and my travels, and when I asked them about how things were going for them, the wife had an interesting answer. She said she loved her family life and being a mother, but there was nothing really extraordinary to tell. What she loved was the rhythm of daily events, and she found great peace in the ordinary, daily activities of her family.
That is the silence of Nazareth. Not great mystical flights into the desert nor dramatic and ground shacking insights into the world. Rather the most profound part of human life is discovering the joy of God in the midst of ordinary activities. It is being aware of God’s presence in what you are already doing. Thus the silence of the Holy Family was their daily awareness of God’s love and nearness in the midst of the ordinary work of ordinary people.