Secrets to be Shared
Today is National Grandparents Day. At the Rio World Youth Day, Pope Francis spoke of Saints Joachim and Ann, according to tradition the grand-parents of Jesus, and parents of Mary. Pope Francis described them as ‘part of the chain of people who transmitted their faith and love of God, expressed in the love of family life, down to Mary who received the Son of God into her womb and gave him to the world and to us.’
Grandparents are important for our intergenerational exchange in families. All of us, elders or youngsters, have a vision of life, and each of our visions enrich our shared journeys. Too often in the weddings I celebrate, due to illness or death, the grandparents of the bride and groom cannot be present. It is sad they are missing. But blessed are the celebrations, every celebration, that can include grandparents!
We can say that grandparents are a ‘secret or hidden force’, in the sense that what they bring as grandparents may be taken for granted, or is inaccessible due to the separation that distance imposes or hectic life styles keep apart. Today’s gospel, while not about grandparents, can remind us of the power of things hidden, that some secrets have to be proclaimed and shared.
The geography of Mark’s gospel is like following a confused GPS. Jesus crosses the lake and seems to be making a journey that circles the the southern Phoenician (Gentile) territory. Before returning to Galilee and leaving the Gentiles he will multiply the loaves and fish as he did also on the Jewish side of the lake. Today’s miracle like its companion (the healing of the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician mother), shows the Spirit that filled Jesus when he began his ministry. The prophecy of Isaiah read in the synagogue in Capernaum comes to life, ‘Blind eyes will be opened deaf ears will hear, those who cannot speak will sing. Springs will burst forth in the desert’. . Among the Gentiles who cannot hear God’s word and whose praise of God may come out distorted, springs of water are appearing! God is with us who have little hope; God is our savior. He sets captives free.
Mark has his secret! Jesus tells the crowd to say nothing, but all the more they proclaim, “He has done all things well! He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak”.
How could Jesus leave the Gentiles without the gratitude of the Syro-Phoenician woman or the joy of the excited crowd and the man who has been healed? The Gentiles no less than the Jews, see the secret. Jesus is restoring a fallen creation. They need to echo the words of Genesis, “God saw everything that he had done, and it was exceedingly good” (Genesis 1:31). Often secrets leak out, someone steals the thunder, and then we have to act surprised. That’s life. We try to respond with respectful awe at the centurion who tells us at the correct moment that the man Jesus was truly the Son of God at the secret telling moment. But some secrets can’t wait, they need to be celebrated. Like grandparents, potentially secretive agents in our families, we need to be proclaimers of the secret in our intergenerational, inter-everything fragile world. Leak Mark’s secret. In a thirsty, at times deaf and stubbornly silent world, there is water of refreshment, there is something to proclaim.
Fr. William Murphy, CP, is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.