REFLECTION: The art of passing unnoticed PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 04 May 2014 13:53



One of the mysterious aspects of the behaviour of Christ was his constant insistence not to be known as some kind of wonder-worker or superhero every time he performed a miracle. He had a kind of obsession to pass unnoticed.

This behaviour somehow contrasted with his open desire to be known and considered by as many people as possible as the Son of God, the Redeemer of mankind.

On one hand, he would always tell the beneficiaries of his miracles not to broadcast what he did. Rather he would instruct them to simply go to the priest and report what happened.

When, out of extreme gratitude, these beneficiaries offered to join him in his journeys, he would tell them to go back home instead. When the hungry people, who were fed to satiety with just a few loaves and fish, wanted to make him king, Christ quickly withdrew to a mountain.

Even after his resurrection, when he was supposed to be in a glorious state, those to whom he showed himself did not recognize him at first. He appeared like anybody else. He obviously did not like to impress and overwhelm people just for the sake of impressing and overwhelming them.

But on the other hand, he would also insist, especially to the unbelieving leading Jews at that time, that he was the Son of God. He would, in fact, cite to them the many miracles he did to show to them that he was not merely human. He was and is God.

This contrasting behaviour obviously baffles us. Why does he want to hide his divinity to some people and affirm it to others?

I believe the answer lies in the fact that Christ wants to be known both as God and man, and as our Redeemer, not out of idle curiosity or for merely practical purposes, but really out of faith.

Our problem often is that our belief in Christ is often corrupted by merely human motives. It’s not faith, but some mixture of idle curiosity and other practical purposes that make us follow him.

And when these idle curiosity and practical purposes would already have their fill, or worse, are not met as expected, then that belief in Christ falls apart. The apostles themselves were not exempt from this phenomenon. Many times, Christ would lament over their lack of faith.

Same with the crowd. Those who welcomed him at his entry to Jerusalem were also those who shouted, “Crucify him” a little later.

Christ wants us to approach him with faith. He wants us to consider the spiritual and supernatural character of his life that should also be reflected in ours. He does not want us to get stuck with his merely material, natural and human aspects.

Not that these material, natural and human aspects are bad or are a hindrance in our proper attitude toward Christ. They are important and indispensable, but they should conduct us to, not prevent us from knowing his real nature and role he plays for us. These aspects should in fact help us to enter into the very life of Christ who is both God and man.

But given our wounded human condition, prone to see only the partial and the immediate and  to miss the whole picture, Christ must have been playing it discreet when performing those marvellous miracles of his. He was careful his work nourished the faith of the people, and not just met their immediate needs.

This should also be a lesson for all of us to follow. In all our thoughts, words and actuations, we should see to it that we feed our faith, that we are led to God, that in the end we manage to live true charity that includes all the other virtues.

We should do our best to avoid getting hijacked in the purely material or practical aspects of our life. We should imitate Christ in his discretion and restraint, in his art of passing of unnoticed, in his effort to avoid grabbing unnecessary and dangerous attention from others, by seeing to it that our thoughts, words and deeds truly lead others to God, and not simply to us.

At best, we should simply be conductors to bring others to Christ. We should avoid making ourselves something like idols, objects of interest. The ideal situation would be that all who see us should see Christ, as he himself said it clearly to his apostles, then to us.

We have to learn to pass unnoticed while doing things that would lead others to Christ!