The Power of Being Silent in Our Suffering

“Jesus gave him no further answer so that Pilate was amazed.”

There is a stark contrast between Jesus and the crowd that accompanied Him into Jerusalem. The crowd was noisy and boisterous in proclaiming Him as the “one who comes in the name of the Lord.” But they were also unfaithful. They will not persevere in proclaiming “Hosanas” about Jesus but will change and curse Him with “Crucify Him” during the Passion.

But Jesus was silent and faithful to His mission. He was completely silent as He entered Jerusalem accompanied by the noisy crowd. By not joining them in their triumphant chants, He appears completely disconnected from their exuberance and excitement.

Jesus would maintain this silence too as He was falsely accused by the chief priests. He did not utter a single word of refutation or self-defense, even as the chief priests “accused Him of many things.” Even Pilate found His silence in the face of many accusations unnerving, “Jesus gave him no further answer so that Pilate was amazed.”

Jesus was also silent when He was mocked and insulted as He hung dying on the cross, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross…He saved others; He cannot save Himself.” He did not try to speak or act to confound them in any way.

Jesus faced all His sufferings with silence. His was a silence that was full of confidence in His Father. He chose to be silent after saying and doing all that the Father had asked Him to say and do, “The works that I do testify that the Father sent me.”(Jn 5:36) He was silent because He was in constant communion with the Father and He was open to receive and fulfill the Father’s will above all things, “The Son can do nothing on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing.”(Jn 5:19) He was not silent because they hurt Him or out of vengeance towards them. He was silent because of their obstinacy in their ways despite all His past miracles and powerful words.

How different we are from Jesus when we face suffering. We talk too much. We grumble and complain a lot when things do not go our way. We think and imagine bad things about others who cause us pain. We remember and rehearse the hurts that others have caused us. We are quick to blame those who we think are responsible for our woes. We even begin to hurt others with our words and actions. We allow random thoughts to run through and control our minds and provoke our imaginations to the point that we are no longer aware of God’s loving presence and action in our lives.  

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we can never really understand the mystery of suffering and pain in our lives. No amount of talking, thinking, imagining, remembering, or considering, can yield any reasonable answer to why suffering enters into our lives. Jesus shows us that, if we enter into silence with trust in God, after doing all that we can do, God will surely sustain us in our fidelity to Him to the very end.

We must first learn from Jesus to be silent in our suffering. When we are silent in our suffering, we begin to sense the abiding presence of God within us. We become convinced that we are never alone, even in the darkest moments. We also begin to hear the consoling words of God to us when we quiet ourselves in God’s presence and surrender our frenetic thoughts, memories, imaginations, plans, and desires to Him.  

It is only by entering suffering with silence that we can actually pray to God from our hearts. St. Teresa of Calcutta reminds us of the value of silence when she said, “Silence is the seed of prayer. Prayer is the seed of faith. Faith is the seed of service.” The more that we enter into silence, the more that we can pray, love, serve, and obey God like Jesus did, i.e., “to the point of death on the cross.”

We live in a world of noise today. We have so many expectations in this world. We hardly stop to reflect on where all these expectations and desires within us are coming from. Our inner pain increases because we are futilely trying to meet these expectations and satisfy all our desires. The world, the devil, and the flesh tempt us to try harder to find relief from our sufferings. Sadly, we succumb and lose our focus on God and we fail to receive the amazing graces, light, and blessings that He is offering to us for our own fidelity to Him in times of pain and suffering.

When next we experience the pain and sufferings of life, let us first place ourselves in the presence of the God who loves us infinitely and constantly. I have found time in the Blessed Sacrament to be most beneficial because Jesus is truly present there, in His body that suffered, died, and rose from the dead for our salvation. Simply remain in this presence with a receptive attitude, trusting that He will surely act and enlighten us regarding the very next step we are to take in our pains.

Then, let us turn to Mary, our Lady of Holy Saturday. She is the one who stood at the foot of the cross, completely silent and receptive amid all the noise and insults around her. She was ready to receive the words of Jesus to her, “Woman, behold your son.”(Jn 19:26) She waited silently and confidently for His resurrection at Easter. We can beg her to help us be still and ready to receive whatever Jesus wants to offer to us at that very moment of pain and suffering. As our Blessed Mother, she knows and understands how noisy and unfaithful we all can be.

Being in the Eucharistic presence of Jesus and sharing in the silence of the Blessed Mother at our side, we will surely receive the graces and love that Jesus always offers to us. This is the only way that we can be faithful to God even as we face the unfathomable mystery of pain and suffering in our lives.

Glory to Jesus! Honor to Mary!

Photo by Amy Moore on Unsplash

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Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations' Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at

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