Thursday, January 19, 2012

1/19/12 - The Messianic Secret

Mark 3:7-12

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.
A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.
Hearing what he was doing,
a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem,
from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan,
and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.
He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd,
so that they would not crush him.
He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases
were pressing upon him to touch him.
And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him
and shout, "You are the Son of God."
He warned them sternly not to make him known.


Christ has just finished the first confrontation with the Pharisees that we see in Mark, concluding with the healing of the crippled man. He withdraws from the Pharisees and continues his mission of healing.

People came from all over. I’m not diligent enough in my study to pull out a map and determine where all these cities are, but others do. Jerusalem is more than a hundred miles from Galilee, Idumea is on the southern border between Palestine and Arabia, and Tyre and Sidon are on the Mediterranean coast. Considering the times, and how long it must have taken to travel these distances, this is amazing.

In the gospels, we see several accounts of confrontation with the Pharisees, followed by Christ leaving the scene. Clearly Jesus didn’t need to run away, but he didn’t go to the final confrontation because he had more work to do. We also see Jesus on several occasions to warn those who confess he is the Christ to not make him known. In this reading, he rebukes the unclean spirits that recognize him.

This is known as the "Messianic Secret." Rather than try and explain why, I'll defer to someone smarter.

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2009 ( Christ knew that to fulfill his mission he had to suffer and die on the cross. For this reason, he took great strides to keep his identity hidden, says Benedict XVI.

Reflecting on today's Gospel (Mark 1:21-28) before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope spoke about the "so-called 'Messianic secret.'"

"For the moment, Jesus does not want anyone outside the restricted group of his disciples to know that he is the Christ, the Son of God," the Pontiff explained. "This is why he often admonishes the apostles and the sick people whom he heals to not reveal his identity to anyone."

"Not only does Jesus chase demons out of people, freeing them from the worst slavery, but he prohibits the demons themselves from revealing his identity," he added.

The Holy Father said Christ insisted on this secret "because the fulfillment of his mission is at stake, on which our salvation depends."

"He knows in fact that to liberate humanity from the dominion of sin he must be sacrificed on the cross as the true paschal lamb," Benedict XVI explained. "The devil, for his part, tries to divert his attention and direct it instead toward a human logic of a powerful and successful messiah."

The Pope continued: "The cross of Christ will be the demon’s ruin, and this is why Jesus does not cease to teach his disciples that in order to enter into his glory he must suffer much, be rejected, condemned and crucified. Suffering is an integral part of his mission."

"Jesus suffers and dies on the cross for love," he added. "When we consider this, we see that it is in this way that he gave meaning to our suffering, a meaning that many men and women of every age understood and made their own, experiencing profound serenity even in the bitterness of difficult physical and moral trials."

PS - if anyone is reading, this is a repeat message from last year on this passage.

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