Sunday, August 27, 2017
Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah. Matthew 16:20
This line in today’s Gospel comes immediately after Peter made his profession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus, in turn, tells Peter that he is “rock” and on this rock He will build His Church. Jesus goes on to tell Peter that He will give him the “keys to the Kingdom.” Then He tells Peter and the other disciples to keep His identity a strict secret.
Why would Jesus say such a thing? What is His motivation? It seems that Jesus would want them to go forth and to tell everyone that He is the Messiah. But this is not what He says.
One reason for this “Messianic Secret” is that Jesus does not want word of who He is to spread in a casual way. Rather, He wants people to come to discover His true identity through the powerful gift of faith. He wants them to encounter Him, prayerfully be open to all He says, and then to receive the gift of faith from the Father in Heaven.
This approach to His true identity highlights the importance of coming to know Christ personally through faith. Eventually, after Jesus’ death, Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, the disciples are called to go forth and to preach openly about the identity of Jesus. But while Jesus was with them, His identity was communicated to people through their own personal encounter with Him.
Though we are all called to proclaim Christ openly and continually in our day and age, His true identity still can only be understood and believed through a personal encounter. When we hear Him proclaimed, we must be open to His divine presence, coming to us and speaking to us in the core of our being. He, and He alone, is able to “convince” us of who He is. He is the one and only Messiah, the Son of the Living God, as Saint Peter professed. We must come to this same realization through our personal encounter with Him in our hearts.
Reflect, today, upon the depth of your faith and knowledge of the Messiah. Do you believe in Him with all your might? Have you allowed Jesus to reveal His divine presence to you? Seek to discover the “secret” of His true identity by listening to the Father speak to you in your heart. It is only there that you will come to have faith in the Son of God.
Lord, I do believe that You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God! Help my lack of faith so that I may come to believe in You and love You with my whole being. Invite me, dear Lord, into the secret depths of Your heart, and allow me to rest there in faith with You. Jesus, I trust in You.