2nd Week of Advent (Saturday, 15th December 2018)
First Reading: Sir 48: 1-4, 9-11 (Elijah will come again)
Gospel: Mt 17: 9a, 10-13 (Elijah has already come)
God’s work since the beginning has always been shown through human agents. They represented Him, spoke His words and performed wonders on His behalf. Some of the examples are Abraham, Moses, and several other prophets. Among all, Elijah occupied a prominent place in the Old Testament. God used him during an important time in Israel’s history to oppose a wicked king and bring revival to the land. We have a glimpse of it in today’s first reading. It explains various cosmic powers that were under his spell. God endowed him with His power. He had control over them and therefore he was considered a great prophet.
The Prophet Elijah was known not merely for power to perform miracles but also was considered a forerunner of the final judgement. His prophecy of the final Day of Judgement was for the single purpose of salvation for the people. We see it so in Malachi 4:5. It says, “Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes”. Naturally we find the query of people to Jesus, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come”? (Mt 17:10). While Jesus agreed to this fact, he also revealed something more for them to realise and mend themselves accordingly.
Jesus indirectly points to the fact that John the Baptist’s birth and his ministry was fulfilment of prophecy of Mal 3:23-24. The people did not recognise the person of Elijah in the person of John the Baptist and on the other hand, they treated him badly to the extent of beheading his head. In other words, Jesus points out that people failed not only to recognise arrival of Elijah in the person of John the Baptist but also to realise His own divinity through his words and actions and forewarns us the suffering we will have at their hands. In other words, he speaks of the divinity in him as “Son of Man who came to seek and to save the lost” (Lk (19:10) and to bring life to the full (Jn 10:10). It is not mere information to them about His suffering but the price of suffering he is to pay for our own salvation. Thus he inspires them to evoke true faith in Him. Today we too need to recall the sufferings he underwent for own salvation. St. Peter says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). In this season of Advent, when we await his return in glory, we should be ready to “…drink the cup He is about to drink” (Mt 20:22) as he told his disciples James and John when they sought for being seated at His left and right. Amen.