Friday, September 12, 2008

Why a messianic secret?

Eucharistic Adoration, tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. Please join us in adoring our Lord!
Below is a question that was posted on the GW Q &A by “Mike”. I thought it would be relevant for all bloggers, especially because it is a question that has been asked in the past at the St A’s Bible Study. Mike also emailed me for an answer; my response and his final reply are also below.

“Hey Fr Greg-- One thing puzzles me at the end of this Gospel (21st Sunday; Mt 16:13-20): after Jesus tells the disciples they're on the money for knowing that He's the Son of God, He forbids them from telling anyone. Why?”

“Mike, great question! There are several instances in the Gospels where Jesus tells the disciples, demons, people he's cured, etc. to not tell others who He is. The reason for this is that people had an erroneous expectation of who the Messiah would be; mainly, they thought that the Messiah would restore military and political power to Israel. So, if word spread that Jesus was the Messiah, they would have misunderstood who he was and what his mission is all about. And, they would have been so devastated by seeing the Crucifixion that they might never have believed in the Resurrection.

It wasn't until after Jesus' death and resurrection that he is proclaimed as the Messiah. That way people would have had a better chance to see who he is really was: the Son of God. They would have had a better chance to see how the events of his life, death, and resurrection fulfilled what the prophets had foretold about the Messiah. And, because it happened in this way (that many of them didn't hear of any talk about Jesus as the Messiah until after his death and resurrection), many of them came to believe in Him.

To put this another way, Jesus knew that people would treat it in a human, natural way only while believing in who he really needs to be seen through a supernatural lens. That's why He says to Simon Peter when he professes Jesus as the Christ that "human beings have not revealed this to you, but my heavenly father" (Mt 16:17). It would take supernatural knowledge and/or a supernatural event (the Resurrection) for people to really get who he is.”

“Thanks very much, Father Greg! I really appreciate your taking the time to answer my question, you've cleared up many hours of wondering for me. I just recently found your blog, but I've got it bookmarked now for future reference on Sunday gospels and other matters. Thanks again!”


At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why speak in tongues?

I witnessed a group where people were speaking in what I guess is “tongues”. It gave me the “willies” because many of the people were not speaking, they were making noises – gibberish would be the best word I can choose to describe what I heard. I know very little about speaking in tongues – I figured that’s why it made me REAL uncomfortable, so I went on-line to try and learn something about the topic.

What I learned is that I am confused and/or ignorant on the topic. I was always under the impression that tongues were a gift, heard by some, not all, but that the ones that received the gift of tongues were believers to begin with. I thought they were offered an “extra perk”, “a bonus”, from the Holy Spirit, for being such a believer and follower. I also thought that the sounds made when vocalizing in tongues would resemble something that sounded like a word, in some language, that exists on this earth. What is the purpose of speaking in tongues if no one can understand it? Is it only for the person hearing and reiterating their tongue? How does the gift of tongues benefit society as a whole? Is it a gift that once received, only God can understand that which is being vocalized in return? When I realized I wasn’t sure who was at work, the Devil or the Spirit, I suspected it was time to stop reading.

1 Corinthians talks about the gift of tongues. “If the bugle’s sound is uncertain, who will get ready for the battle? Similarly, if you do not utter intelligible speech because you are speaking in a tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will be talking to the air” (1Cor 14: 8-9). I heard what sounded like gibberish. In verse 22 Paul says, “The gift of tongues is a sign, not for those who believe but for those who do not believe, while prophecy is not for those who are without faith but for those who have faith” (1 Cor:14-22). This made sense as I thought about it; much like doubting Thomas – proof was needed for belief, but it was not what I anticipated finding on the internet.

“If the uninitiated or unbelievers should come in when the whole church is assembled and everyone is speaking in tongues, would they not say that you are out of your minds?” (1 Cor: 14:23). It seems odd, that to my knowledge, neither Jesus nor his disciples spoke in tongues. If they did, I would imagine their “tongue” would have been understood by someone, otherwise, what good was it? Bottom line is that I just don’t get it.

This will probably sound very closed minded but there is no way anyone can convince me that some of the tongues I heard could be understood by others, believers or unbelievers. The sounds didn’t even resemble another language. I’m lost in regards of what to make of what I saw and heard and yet it seems to be something that is becoming more and more prevalent in the Christian world.

Can any one out there help me out? In a language I understand?

At 9:25 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

Anon 11pm, feel free to add me to your "closed-minded" club. I don't buy the "speaking in tongues" at ALL. I think it's wacko, along with snake-handling.


Post a Comment

<< Home