When Joey and Sarah were young we had a little secret between us when Maria was out of town on business. In one instance I had stopped at the grocery store for some basics. While there, I decided on a dinner that I knew all three of us would enjoy. The next morning I dropped the kids off at daycare before heading off to work. Knowing that Maria was picking them up I reminded Joey and Sarah not to tell their Mom about dinner.
That afternoon as Maria buckled them into their car seats Joey blurted out our dinner secret! Sarah, who was only three at the time, said with disdain, “You weren’t supposed to tell her.” So much for Dad’s secret special dinner recipe…
We see a similar behavior in this week’s Gospel.
Again Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” — And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” Mark 7:31-37
This passage begs two important questions. One, why is Jesus so emphatic about not telling anyone what He had done? I don’t know the answer to that question. One theory is the “Messianic Secret.” I’ll summarize it by saying that Jesus knew it was not time for His true identity to be known. The Jewish people had various conceptions of who and what the Messiah would be. Jesus realized that people would try to fit Him into their notion of a Messiah. He wanted to limit the number of people who were confused about His identity. We live with the knowledge of who Jesus is.
The second question I have to ask is, how could those following Him not obey His orders? I believe the answer to this question is simple. They could not contain themselves. As witnesses to the power of God they were compelled to share the Good News. “He has done all things well.” They had experienced something extraordinary. In the case of the deaf and mute man, Jesus had actually touched him. As this happened the people had to proclaim Jesus even though He ordered them not to do so.
Once Jesus touches us we are changed. That change should compel us to tell others about Him. If we aren't, we should ask ourselves why.
Joey was compelled to share our secret. He just couldn’t control himself. He needed to get the good news out. He was compelled to share his experience. “We had Lucky Charms for dinner!!!” I know it’s a far stretch from the Messiah, but Joey’s enthusiasm was real and contagious.
Oh that we would share our Messiah that way!