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!”