The Secret of the Messiah

17 September 2006: 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 8, 27-35: Surrender

What we read today is the center of the whole Gospel of Mark. It is a turning point. Everything changes direction from this passage. My teacher in the Synoptics, Fr. Nil Guillemette SJ, tells us how. First, geographically: From Galilee, we go up to Jerusalem. Second, content of Jesus’ teaching: from now on, it will deal with the Passion of Jesus and the theme of true discipleship. In the Gospel, Jesus ‘predicts’ his passion (actually, an after-event prophesy), and tells us that true discipleship means to take up one’s cross and follow Him. Moreover, it is the connection between the two parts of the Gospel.The first half of the Gospel, deals about the fact of the Messianic secret; the second half reveals the content of the secret.

What is this Messianic secret? Many of us wonder about this secret --- passages where Jesus tells those who experienced miracles not to inform anyone about Him or about what happened. It is like, “It’s between the two of us.” However, we hear that even if Jesus advise them not to report anyone about him and his deeds, the people who were cured still spread the news to everyone. That is why He became so popular. Why does Jesus have to keep a secret? Jesus believes that the disciples and the others do not yet possess a correct idea of the Messiah and they would just be misleading the people if they would disclose it as they imagine Him to be. What is the correct idea of the Messiah? In Jesus’ time, the Jews expected the Messiah to be a political leader, like King David, who would deliver them from all who colonized Israel such as the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks and Roman Empire. During King David, they were an empire, they were independent. But Jesus was not a political messiah, he was a suffering one --- someone who would save us through pain on the cross, someone who would suffer and die for us so that we will be saved. In other words, Jesus is not just here to save Israel, but to save everyone. Therefore, the way of suffering is also our way if we would like to be His disciple: we are to take up our cross. It is required of all Christians. No wonder, Peter and the disciples were scandalized when Jesus revealed to them that his mission as Messiah would lead them to a violent death just as we are scandalized by our ever-present pain and suffering.

Often, we are burdened by worry over work, status, recognition, success, acceptance by people and wealth. And yet, our inner worth does not increase in proportion to the wealth and reputation we have acquired. Thus, if we want to live Christ’s life, we must die to ourselves. This means that we concentrate our efforts on carrying the cross instead of carrying our belongings. We always hear of the epitaph, “Let go. Let God.” They said that the origin of this is an experience of a college student who placed on sheets of paper each of the letter in LETGOD. A wind blew the letter “D” and he realized that in order to let God, he has to let go. We must let go.

For example, in order to grasp the truth objectively as it really is, we must give up our previous ideas about it. We must quiet our passions, our personal interests and motives, and our easy solutions on problems. Likewise, if we want to experience love, we must surrender ourself in the hands of another person, share that person’s suffering and risk betrayal, even exposing ourself to losing the person’s presence like in goodbyes, in separation, or in death. If we would like to know where we would be happy, then we have to run the risk of making mistakes and facing the consequences of our decisions.

I have a story. A little piece of wood once complained bitterly because its owner kept carving it, cutting it, and filling it with holes. The carver was so remorseless when he was carving and cutting, that he paid no attention to the wood’s complaining. He said, “without these holes, and all these cutting, you would be a black stick forever. What I am doing now may make you think that I am destroying you, but instead, I will change you forever. You will charm the souls of people and comfort those with a sorrowing heart. My cutting is the making of you, for only by becoming a flute, can you be a blessing in the world.”

Carrying our crosses may feel like torture, being carved, being cut. Look at our lives and see how much of our growth and beauty as a person have been forged by our crosses and by suffering. Our crosses has been the making of ourselves.


Victor said...

I came across your website by accident. I read some of your articles and I found it extremely inspirational.

Victor said...

I came across your website by accident. I read some of your articles and I found them to be extremely inspirational.

Jessel Gerard said...

Thank you very much victor. I originally intended this for students who would like to have points for prayer because I work in the University of the Philippines. And people have been using it for different purposes. I am very happy that i have helped somehow. This is kinda private, because I too have different sources in preparing for my homilies. The sources are in the "My Book Shelf" icon... though I have not updated them yet. I owe many of my ideas to authors, books and magazines, etc.

Do take care, and assure you of my prayers too.

evelyn said...

Yun pala ang dahilan! I have always wondered why Jesus told people he healed and even his disciples not to tell others about him. Now it makes more sense. I've been reflecting about it since Tuesday. (I even went over Mark's gospel to see if things are really different before and after this passage.) It's good to finally find an answer to something I've been asking for a long time. Thanks!
Fr. JBoy, bakit di mo kamukha ang picture mo?

Jessel Gerard said...

evelyn, picture ko yan. walang glasses.