Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:12-15, 18-19;Matthew 16:13-23
Saint Sixtus II, Pope, and Companions, Martyrs
He strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah. (Matthew 16:20)
Thanks to a wonderful revelation, Peter has realized and boldly confessed that his friend Jesus is the Messiah, Son of the living God. Surely he and the other disciples need to share this fantastic discovery with everyone they meet! But Jesus disagrees. “Don’t tell anyone,” he says.
Much ink has been spilled trying to explain this “Messianic secret.” Perhaps it wasn’t yet the right time for the disciples to announce who Jesus really was. Perhaps his companions had a mistaken notion of who the Messiah should be. Many in Israel at the time expected a warrior-king who would drive out the occupying Roman army and establish Jerusalem as a great world capital. So maybe it was better for the Twelve to keep quiet than to risk having large numbers of people take up arms and flock to join a movement that Jesus had no intention of leading. As we can see in the Gospels, even the disciples still had a long road ahead of them before they could begin to comprehend that he had come as a Messiah who would bring salvation through suffering, not military victory. They would only grasp this after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
These are all important points and valid reasons why the disciples needed to remain quiet. But today’s first reading offers us another equally important answer: in God’s new creation, God will reveal himself to each individual person. “No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:34). The apostles needed to learn that their role as evangelists wasn’t so much to teach people about God but to discern where the Holy Spirit is already at work and help people respond to the Spirit’s promptings. There is a world of difference between saying, “Jesus is Lord,” and crying out, “Jesus, you are my Lord!”
Of course, we need to tell people about Jesus, but our purpose isn’t simply to convey information. It’s to introduce people to a divine Friend who is very eager for them to come to know him. This is what the apostles did, and it’s our calling as well.
“Jesus, you are my Messiah. Teach me how to share your good news with every person I meet today.”~WAU