The Secrets of Jesus
All of us have secrets in our life. A secret is something that is hidden or concealed or revealed only to a few. And all of us have secrets, some hidden or concealed information about us or known only to a few. How we were raised by our parents, relatives or guardians is a secret to most people.
Jesus also had secrets. Some of these he alone knew and still knows now. How he exactly created the world is a secret even to the most brilliant scientist. During his earthly life he had several secrets known only to very few persons. Our Gospel reading today gives one of these secrets, how he was transfigured into a being whose face shone like the sun, and whose clothes were as white as light.
The Gospel from Matthew we heard says, 'And he, that is, Jesus, was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.'
And at the end of the reading we heard Jesus telling his three specially chosen disciples to keep this event a secret until he would be raised from the dead.
Actually in the Gospel of Matthew this is the fifth and last time that Jesus tells people to keep something a secret.
The first time is in Matthew 8:4 where he tells a leper whom he cured of leprosy to tell no one about this cure.
The second time is in Matthew 9:30 where he tells two blind men whom he also cured to tell no one about this cure.
The third time is in Matthew 12:16 where he tells the multitude whom he cured not to make him known.
The fourth is in Matthew 16:20 where he tells his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah after Peter confessed that he was that longed for Messiah.
And the fifth is this passage in our Gospel reading.
These passages show that Jesus wanted some things to be kept secret, at least temporarily.
When we go to the last book of the Bible, the Revelation, there are more secrets. In 10:4 he tells John, the writer of this book, to seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered and not to write them. We may never know what those things were. In 19:12 we are told by John that the horse rider whose name was Faithful and True had a name which no man knew but himself. This rider is of course Jesus and this verse tells us that Jesus has a name which he alone knows, a name that he has not revealed to us.
Jesus is indeed fond of keeping some things secret, especially his identity before his resurrection.
One of these secrets which he himself does not know is his coming back to our planet earth. In Matthew 24:36 he tells us that this coming back to us is known only by his Father.
There is another secret which Jesus alone knows and we will never know this secret because thanks to him he alone experienced this so that we will never experience it. This is the secret of his suffering for our sins in hell.
St. Catherine of Siena in her letter to Pope Gregory XI wrote, "So by His death the wrath of the Father is pacified, having wrought justice on the person of His Son, so he has satisfied justice and has satisfied mercy releasing the human race from the hands of demons."
How Jesus satisfied the justice and mercy of God, suffering in our stead, is a secret only Jesus knows. We will never know this because we cannot satisfy God's justice and mercy.
This is the secret we celebrate this season of Lent, the secret of how Jesus suffered for us. This suffering is not only the physical suffering which we can see portrayed in movies about Jesus. This suffering is the one he endured having been abandoned by God his Father for three hours and experiencing the torments of hell for us.
In the first reading we read about the blessings that God would shower on Abraham. This was made possible by the sufferings of Jesus, his descendant through the line of Jacob and David.
In the second reading we heard that Jesus saved us and called us to a holy life, the life he won by his sufferings on the cross. By his death he destroyed death, that is, our eternal death in the fiery flames of hell so that we will not experience it. That is what Lent is about. In gratitude we remember his sufferings, death and resurrection during these forty days.
Let us pray as we bow our heads.
Jesus, you are the keeper of the secrets of this universe. You also keep the secret of how you redeemed us. Thank you for redeeming us. May we bear the little inconveniences and sufferings this season of Lent with patience in gratitude for redeeming us. Amen.
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Note for the readers:
The Mass readings are from the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). This is where our Lectionary gets the readings.
NAB stands for New American Bible (before it was revised). This is the translation I use. Unless otherwise stated the text I use is from this translation.
AV stands for Authorized Version of the Bible. It is more commonly referred to as the King James Bible. It is the version most used in English literature, therefore it is the one known more by the English speaking world.