"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

Did Jesus Keep Secrets?

Our Lady of Silence (La Madonna del Silenzio)

hree points to this sermon: First, there is what we call Messianic Secret that is used primarily in the Gospel of Mark. Yes, Jesus kept a secret too. He commanded his followers to maintain silence about his Messianic mission. Several times–Mk 1:44, Lk 5:14–Jesus asked those he healed to tell no one about the miracles. He strictly prohibited the spreading of news that he was the Christ (Mt 16:20). There are two possible reasons why Jesus didn’t want to make his messianic identity known immediately. First, he didn’t want to draw attention to himself too quickly. Messiah is a politically charged title and you would think twice before you agitate the foreign authorities, i.e., the Romans who were so protective of their power over the Jews. They quashed all movements particularly messianic or any claim to be a king. In order to avoid premature death, secrets had to be kept. Secondly, Jesus kept in secret his identity to protect something of greater value or importance. What was that? The common notion of the Messiah was in terms only of being a political or militaristic king that the Jews hoped as their deliverer from Roman occupation. Definitely, such a view would not have jibed with a Messiah who was crucified by the very enemy that the Jews hoped the Messiah would defeat. Jesus needed to buy time to reshape such an idea so that his suffering and death would not become a stumbling block for the people that Jesus was sent to save. When Jesus said, “there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light” he knew his Messianic secret will be revealed at the appointed time.

The second point is on obedience and what it means to obey even when we do not know yet entirely the final outcome. Obedience comes from two Latin roots, 'audire' and 'ausculta' [Also rendered 'obsculta', the very first word of The Rule of St Benedict that cultivated the seed of Western civilization]. It has scriptural origin in Jesus' words, 'qui habet aures audiendi audiat'—'he who has ears to hear shall hear' (Mk 4:9). It is a command that could be answered with 'yes', 'no' or 'not yet'. Like the parables of Jesus, it is addressed to a person who is ready with 'ears to hear'. There is a saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." But it is the law of all nature that we do not fully know everything at first. We did come to know our Lord only gradually. We believe that the fullness of God has been revealed through Jesus. However, our Lord's identity continues to be a person's best-kept secret that is waiting to be revealed personally and intimately in one’s own lifetime.

Third and final point, we come to the first human being in Mark’s gospel who was able to decode, so to speak, the Messianic secret. He was not an apostle, nor was he a believer. It was the Roman centurion, considered an enemy. As he was standing at the foot of the Cross with Jesus’ lifeless body, he revealed to the world the secret, when he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God" (Mk 15: 39). Here we go again–our God continues to give unfunny jokes like this. We better get used to him like this because he is “Deus Semper Maior”–God always more, a God of surprises. But this God wants to reveal everything to everyone at the appointed time whole and entire without division, without prejudice, without delay. When Jesus told his disciples, “Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still, more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” In God, we just know more and more deeply. We must take care in constantly cultivating and listening to God's Word. He desires to give all the fruits that he could give to us. The Great Saint Basil said, "If these are the first fruits, what will the full harvest be." Amen. Fr JM Manzano SJ


  1. Thank you, Fr. jom... More graces, blessings and prayers for you...


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