The Messianic Secret

Homily for Thursday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time

Throughout a lot of the passages that we read in the Gospel of Mark, we hear Jesus give this instruction to many of the people that He heals or people that have come to understand something about His mission: “See that you tell no one anything” (or some derivative of that). It’s known as the Messianic Secret. It is found almost exclusively in the Gospel of Mark, but it also shows up a couple of times in Luke and Matthew. Jesus asks people to keep things quiet and we might be left wondering why? Well, today’s Gospel gives us an indication of why Jesus wanted things to be kept quiet.

We see what happens when people don’t keep the secret: “The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.” There was a practical reason for wanting to keep things a secret. As word got around that Jesus was performing miracles, it became more and more difficult for Him to be able to reach a larger amount of people. But there is also a deeper theological meaning to it.

Jesus wasn’t ready to reveal exactly who He was to everyone. It wasn’t the proper time for His mission and purpose to be fully revealed. God had a plan and a timeline that things were supposed to follow. There were more people that Jesus was intended to reach. But, here’s the thing. Did Jesus really think that others were not going to find out about these miracles? Think about it. A man has leprosy one second and mere hours later he is totally healed? There was no way that man was going to be able to keep that quiet, even if he followed Jesus’ instruction. Yet, even still, the man was called to be obedient to what the Lord had asked of him, and he failed to achieve that. As a result, it made Jesus’ mission a bit more challenging.

With that in mind, this raises a question for us: how do we get in the way of God working? The readings for today challenge us to consider if we ever get in the way of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. I’ve got news for all of us: every single one of us gets in the way of the Lord working. It’s called sin. It’s called fear, anxiety, lack of courage. Now imagine if instead of giving into all the temptations that we face in life, we instead use those as opportunities to turn to the Lord and ask for help. Imagine what healing and what wholeness He could bring to our lives. Imagine how we could then become witnesses to how Jesus continues to work in the world. Let’s change that today. Let’s ask the Lord to give us the strength and the courage to turn to Him in moments of trial and to always seek His grace in moments of temptation. Only then can we stop getting in the way of the Lord working in our lives and in the lives of others.

Published by Fr. Tom Pringle

Priest of the Diocese of Orlando. Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church, Orlando.

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