We have all heard “please don’t tell” at one time or another.
- Sometimes from a friend who needs to talk.
- Sometimes from a person who needs to feel important by telling you.
- Sometimes from a person who really wants you to tell someone else, possibly to cause harm to another.
These are just a few reasons behind these words.
Why did Jesus say tell no one?
As I listened to the Gospel on this feast of the Transfiguration I wondered why. Why did Jesus tell them not to tell anyone? Was it one of the reasons I just mentioned?
Maybe it was none of the above.
- Just maybe it was because he knew they would get it wrong.
- Maybe they would jump to conclusions about him and the future.
- Maybe he knew they did not understand the full story.
Maybe he knew that in their amazement they would go from A to Z. They skipped to the last chapter of mystery filling in the blanks. After all, when he did tell them he must suffer and die they recoiled. They said, “say it isn’t so.”
One thing seems certain. They were blown away by the experience and probably could not wait to tell everyone the amazing thing they had experienced. Did they honor his command?
St. Catherine Labouré’s secret
I never thought about the transfiguration in the light of Mary’s apparition to St. Catherine Labouré.
As a young priest, I lived with Fr. Joseph Dirvin CM, Catherine’s biographer. He wrote,
“Things were crystal clear to the plain mind of the country girl from Burgundy: Our Lady had appeared to her, had ordered something to be done. All that remained was to do it; it was as simple as that.”
“It was certainly not as simple as that to Father Aladel. Our Lady had not appeared to him. All his knowledge of this wondrous thing, this Medal, was second-hand, and he had his knowledge from a simple, illiterate novice.”
So he took the cautious route. He wasn’t sure so he asked her not to tell anyone.
Lessons to be learned
What is the lesson we can learn from Jesus’ command?
So often we only have half the story. We don’t know the back story of the persons we encounter. We only focus on the part of their story we know.
- Sometimes we judge people not realizing the suffering they have been through. We might marvel if we knew the whole story.
- Sometimes we think how much we would like to live forever in a given moment but we don’t know the entire story yet.
- Sometimes we fill in the gaps, jump to conclusions.
What is the lesson we can learn from the story of St. Catherine?
Respect for the mystery she was part of. Could it be that if she had spoken, much of the focus on Mary’s medal might be drawn away to her? By not speaking of her role people focused on the medal and the message.
Sometimes we need to respect the mystery of the moment trusting in God.
Questioning our secrets
- When have I spoken of something I did not understand?
- When have I revealed something that made me feel important?