The Silence of God. Cardinal Ravasi’s Reflection on Evil and Hope

[ dell’Editore, 21.10.2022 – Elena Grazini] – The book was released in bookstores and also in e-book format God’s silence. Meditations on the mystery of evil and the courage of hope by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi (TS Edizioni 2022, 204 pages[QUI]), a precious collection of meditations by the famous biblical scholar dedicated to the prophet Jeremiah, the “man of Anatot”, named after the suburb of Jerusalem where the prophet came from.

“Jeremiah is the traveling companion of all those who, walking in the darkness of trial, crisis and suffering, know how to find the courage to fight and always hope”, explains Cardinal Ravasi about the theme dealt with in the book. «Meditating on the book of Jeremiah along the plot with which it has come down to us is, therefore, a strong experience especially in a dramatic historical period like the one that marked our time, marked by the pandemic and the brutality of war. The pain for the prophet internalizes religion, freeing it from the magical and superficial exteriority, prayer becomes sincere, authentic, the relationship with God spontaneous and total; spirituality becomes mature, non-formal, reaches intimacy with God on unprecedented levels. But suffering in Jeremiah also exalts personal conscience and intelligence. Man does not get lost in the superficial mass, drowned in myths, intoxicated with illusions, pervaded by a mortuary joy. In fact, Jeremiah is the only one who clearly sees the gloomy destiny that is looming on the horizon of Judas and is the only one, unheard, to identify the way of salvation. Pain, therefore, makes the prophet meet his God and his “I” ».

The faith that leads us to discover God, as in a polyptych, is placed at the center of other elements such as the Word, silence and history. God goes to meet men, even those who do not seek him, he is walking on their paths; a dialogue beyond everyday life, a presence that settles in an overwhelming rapture, always respecting the full freedom of man. Cardinal Ravasi resumes: «However, when with the slavery of Israel and with Jerusalem in ruins all seems lost, the prophet – a true protester of clichés – opens up a new luminous horizon. These are pages full of hope. As the French poet Paul Claudel (1868-1955) wrote, “Anatot’s man also becomes the brother of all those who love and hope. Disappointment does not annihilate but manages to rekindle hope, betrayal does not extinguish it, it is a burning fire in the bones, irrepressible ”».

Cardinal Ravasi reflects on the mystery of evil and suffering in the history of humanity. They are profound and universal pages to rediscover the courage to fight and hope despite the darkness of the present time. Each meditation is a splinter that, in the footsteps of the prophet Jeremiah, prods the reader to awaken his own conscience in order to recognize pain as a way to meet God, oneself and one’s neighbor. Cardinal Ravasi writes: «The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) used to say that“ one must have darkness within oneself to give birth to a dancing star ”. Jeremiah with his message streaked with tears and the dark crisis teaches us to make the spark of a star blossom in every day of our earthly journey. “You will pick up the drums and go out dancing in celebration. The sentries on the mountains will cry: It’s day! Come on, let us go up to Zion and sing with joy ”(31,4-7)».

The author

Gianfranco Ravasi, born in 1942 in Merate (Lecco), cardinal, internationally renowned biblical expert and Jewish scholar, emeritus president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology, was Prefect of the Ambrosiana Library-Picture Gallery in Milan and professor of Exegesis of the ‘Old Testament to the Theological Faculty of Northern Italy. His vast literary work has over 150 volumes, mainly concerning biblical, literary and dialogue topics with the sciences. He collaborates with L’Osservatore Romano, Avvenire And The sun 24 hours. For his journalistic activity he was awarded the Montanelli Prize in 2017. His latest publishing success is titled Biography of Jesus (Raffaello Cortina 2021).

The Silence of God. Cardinal Ravasi’s Reflection on Evil and Hope –