Monday, September 14, 2020

When Jesus tells the devil to keep silent, it’s not because he is making too much noise. It’s because his knowledge leads to nothing.

There are quite a few instances in the gospels where Jesus out rightly tells the demons who possess people to be quiet and to be silent.  This appears to be something random, and we often pay scant attention to this response of Jesus, though it really is revealing something of great importance to us.  Biblical scholars have named this the Messianic Secret, where by ‘secret’, it is implied that the demons know something about the Messiah in Jesus’ work and life that have yet to be revealed at that point in time.  In other words, they have no right to expose to the world how absolutely awesome and unthinkable God’s plan is to redeem souls lost to evil and sin through the paschal mystery.  Of course, this ‘secret’ is no longer a secret as the empty tomb has been the revelation of the salvific plan of God.


But could there be another reason for the silence that Jesus so clearly imposed on the demons that goes beyond that of just keeping the divine identity of Jesus a secret?  I believe that there is.   And once we understand this other ‘motive’, it has a power that can change the way we relate to God and live out our Christian discipleship and divine filiation.


Many Catholics who say that they no longer go to Church often follow up with an oft-repeated rhetoric that they believe that God exists.  This reveals quite a few things, the chief of which is that what is ultimately of importance in life is that one believes in one’s head that there is a God.  But the only thing that this gives any evidence of is that one is not an atheist, but nothing more.


Jesus was not interested in people acknowledging that God existed.  Nowhere in the gospel text do we see evidence that Jesus’ mission in life was to ensure that humans acknowledge God’s existence.  For the people in the time of Jesus in Palestine, God’s existence was a given.  Whether it was the God of Israel, or other deities of the non-Israelite nations, there was a sense of the supernatural. 


What has this got to do with Jesus’ silencing of the demons then if it wasn’t about theism?  It was all about relationship and adoration.  If it was merely about cerebral knowledge about the identity of Jesus as the Son of God the most high, then the original angels which the demons were would not have fallen and became what we know today as demons, because they knew who God was, even in a deeper way that any theologian could ever know God.  They had infused knowledge. 


What made demons demons and not angels was the fact that they refused to worship and adore and have that loving relationship with God that they were made fore.  With the knowledge of God that they had, they made the irreversible decision to choose not to worship, and not to serve, and this caused their eternal fall from grace. 


From this foundational understanding of what made the angels turn into demons and forever stay that way, we can see why it’s not knowledge of God that is of ultimate importance, or else they wouldn’t be demons.  What causes the demons to exist fathoms existentially beneath that of humans is the human’s ability to choose to love God together with the ability to have some cognizance of who God is (through learning about God through scripture and doctrine).  Knowledge alone is a dangerous thing, as it can cause us to be puffed up with pride and egoism.


But when knowledge of God is paired with loving God with a tender heart and affective devotion, our ability to reach our fullest potential as saints at the end of our earthly lives will be set on the right track. 


Jesus didn’t want the demons to give those around the possessed persons the false impression that just knowing who Jesus is, is sufficient for entering into the fullness of the Kingdom of God.  They could name Jesus as the Son of the Most High, but did not have one speck of devotion and love in return for their having been created out of love when they were angels. 


One of the most important, if not THE most important things we can do in life is to devote our hearts and lives to God in love.  It fulfills the first commandment, which is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, our mind and our souls.  It is not just to know who God is, or that he exists. 


Remember – the demons have a much fuller knowledge of God than any human being, and the Kingdom of God is never going to be theirs.  Don’t just know about God.  To that knowledge, add love and devotion and adoration, and it will change everything.

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