Divine Absence


Christ in the garden of gethsemane

Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: April 1, 2021

During the first coronavirus pandemic lockdown in Belgium, a Belgian composer and Australian
singer and songwriter wrote a piece of music called “L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S”. The first track on the CD
is called “Litany of Divine Absence.” It begins with the sound of a gong and then a voice
whispers “Where are You?” It is rather haunting. A modern expression of the Passion of Christ.
Someone described it as being the humble call of the creature to its Creator, like a child lost in the

Beginning this evening at this Mass of the Lord’s Supper and continuing with Good Friday and
Holy Saturday, we will experience the human cry in the face of the seeming absence of God.
Jesus faces this reality in the Garden of Gethsemane where he cries out, “Father if it be your will,
remove this cup from me.”  The anguish of one who faces a difficult, uncertain and frightening
future.  We will see Jesus suffering his unjust and cruel death, where Jesus will call out on the
cross, “my God my God why have you forsaken me.” The cry of the human heart who feels
alone and abandoned, with a seemingly absent God. We will experience the silence and darkness
of Jesus in the tomb and his disciples hidden in fear.

Divine silence, Divine absence, are experiences we human beings have when we face sickness,
loss, betrayal, failure, death of a loved one. When we feel empty or lost and wonder about the presence of God. It is for this reason that the Eucharist we celebrate at this Mass of the Lord’s Supper is so important.

Jesus left us a sacramental way in which he could be present to us in this life. We speak of the Real Presence. The God who often seems silent and absent to finite human beings, is present to us in this bread and wine consecrated at the Mass. Here we see and hear and touch and taste the presence of the Lord. The Eucharist is truly the gift of real presence for us human beings who so often experience the seeming absence of God.

Tonight we also commemorate the gift of the Priesthood in the Church. The priest is also called
to be a sacramental sign of the presence of Jesus. The priest is not a call to power, but to humble
service. When a priest reaches out to his people to listen to them, to care for them, to bring them
mercy, to offer kindness, then he becomes a way in which the presence of Jesus is able to be
experienced. The priest is in persona Christi when he is humbly serving people, when he is
symbolically down on his knees washing people’s feet.

Each one of us who have been baptized is called to live and be with others as the presence of
Jesus. We are the body of Christ. Let Jesus wash your feet. Then be with others as one who
humbly serves. Symbolically get down on your knees to wash the feet of your family, your
friends, those in need around you.

In this Paschal Mystery this Triduum, we will experience the Divine Absence, the Divine Silence.
Something we human beings experience in the journey of our life. Our call as the church, as the body of Christ, is to be with others so that they experience even in the smallest way, the presence
of God, that they hear the sound of God’s voice through our words.

As people around us cry in the silence of their hearts, “Where are you?”. We are called to be with
them as a sign of the presence of God. As people around us feel lost in the seeming silence of
God, we are called to be with them in such a way that they may hear the gentle voice of God in
their hearts.

As we have the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, may we become the presence and voice
of God to those around us.

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