Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Sirach 47:2-11; Mark 6:14-29)
The word enigma comes from a Greek word meaning riddle. An enigma is more than what meets the eye. Or, we might say, an enigma confounds the eye. To some Senator Ted Kennedy was an enigma. He seemed legitimately concerned about the poor and defenseless – immigrants, the uninsured, and children in substandard schools, for example. But he refused to defend the unborn, certainly among the most vulnerable of all human beings. In the first half of the narratives of Mark’s gospel, Jesus also appears to observers as enigmatic.
In the first seven chapters of the gospel Jesus works wonders and confronts hypocrites like the prophet Elijah. He announces the coming God’s kingdom like John the Baptist. Demons know his true identity, but it is elusive to other humans. Haunted by guilt, Herod Antipas supposes that Jesus must be the reincarnation of the Baptist whose head he had chopped off.
In the second half of the gospel Peter correctly names Jesus as the Messiah, but no one understands what that term means until he dies on the cross. Then the Roman centurion, observing his innocence and faithfulness lived out to the last breath, proclaims Jesus the “son of God”. On the third day Jesus rises from the dead clearing away all doubts about his identity, at least among his followers. Jesus is no longer an enigma but, indeed, sterling truth whose hand leads us to both dignity and joy.