Monday, February 2, 2009

'Suffering is an integral part of his mission'
The Holy Father on Jesus' 'messianic secret'

"This year, at Sunday Mass, the liturgy proposes the Gospel of St. Mark for our meditation. A special characteristic of this Gospel is the so-called 'messianic secret,' the fact that, for the moment, Jesus does not want anyone outside the restricted group of his disciples to know that he is the Christ, the Son of God. This is why he often admonishes the apostles and the sick people whom he heals to not reveal his identity to anyone.

"For example, the Gospel passage this Sunday (Mark 1:21-28) tells of a man possessed by a demon, who suddenly cries out: 'What do you want with us Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the holy one of God!' Jesus answers him: 'Be quiet! Come out of him!' And immediately, the evangelist notes, the evil spirit came out of the man with a loud cry. Not only does Jesus chase demons out of people, freeing them from the worst slavery, but he prohibits the demons themselves from revealing his identity. And he insists on this 'secret' because the fulfillment of his mission is at stake, on which our salvation depends.

"He knows in fact that to liberate humanity from the dominion of sin he must be sacrificed on the cross as the true paschal lamb. The devil, for his part, tries to divert his attention and direct it instead toward a human logic of a powerful and successful messiah. The cross of Christ will be the demon’s ruin, and this is why Jesus does not cease to teach his disciples that in order to enter into his glory he must suffer much, be rejected, condemned and crucified (cf. Luke 24:26). Suffering is an integral part of his mission.

"Jesus suffers and dies on the cross for love. When we consider this, we see that it is in this way that he gave meaning to our suffering, a meaning that many men and women of every age understood and made their own, experiencing profound serenity even in the bitterness of difficult physical and moral trials."

— Pope Benedict XVIAngelus message, February 1, 2009