|Advent Reflections for December 15
Week 2 - Saturday
Lord our God,
When we have become inattentive and uninvolved,
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Then the disciples asked Him, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" He said in reply, "Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that He was speaking to them of John the Baptist. (Matthew 17: 10-13)
Some among those who followed Jesus would not believe that He was the Messiah. They were waiting for the reappearance of Elijah, who Scripture said must return before the coming of the Messiah. In the same way, many of us have set up obstacles that prevent us from living as if the Messiah has already come.
What are we waiting for? What obstacles have we set up to prevent us from living as if our Savior has already come?
Make a phone call. Call someone you have been meaning to speak to, but for some reason you have not done so.
Pray for peace on Earth.
Gospel: Matthew 17:9, 10-13
As they were coming down from the mountain, the disciples asked Jesus, "Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first? He said in reply, "Elijah will indeed come and restore all things, but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that he was speaking about John the Baptist. Matthew 17:9, 10-13
The Second Book of Kings describes Elijah, in his final days, talking with the prophet Elisha when…"a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind." Thus it was believed that he did not taste death.
Some 500 years later in the book of Malachi, God says, "Lo, I will send you, Elijah, the prophet, before the day of the Lord comes." Jewish theologians took this to mean that Elijah would return before the Messiah came.
So the disciples ask: If Elijah hasn't returned, how could Jesus be the Messiah? Jesus gives the answer: John the Baptist is the Elijah figure prophesized by Malachi.
The Gospel writers do not give us a biography of Jesus, but answer the question: "Who is Jesus?"
All four Gospels answer: He is the Messiah. He is the Son of God. He has come to begin the final preparation for the kingdom of God.
Picture Jesus saying to you (as he once said to the disciples)" Who do you say that I am?
Give your answer – not in the abstract, but to him.
Spend some quiet time with the Lord.
• The disciples have just seen Moses and Elijah before Jesus in the Transfiguration on the mountain (Mt 17, 3). In general, people believed that Elijah had to return to prepare the coming of the Kingdom. Prophet Malachi said: “Look, I shall send you the prophet Elijah before the great and awesome Day of Yahweh comes. He will reconcile parents to their children and children to their parents, to forestall my putting the country under the curse of destruction!” (Mal 3, 23-24; cf. Eccl. 48, 10). The disciples want to know: What does the teaching of the Doctors of the Law mean, when they say that Elijah has to come before?” Because Jesus, the Messiah, was already there, had already arrived, and Elijah had not come as yet. Which is the value of this teaching of the return of Elijah?
• Jesus answers: “Elijah has already come and they have not recognized him; rather, they have treated him as they have wanted. In the same way, they will also make the Son of Man suffer”. Then the Disciples understood that Jesus was speaking of John the Baptist.
• In that situation of Roman domination which disintegrated the clan and the familiar living together, people expected that Elijah would return to reconstruct the community: to reconcile the parents to their children and the children to their parents. This was the great hope of the people. Today also, the neo-liberal system of communism disintegrates the families and promotes the masses which destroy life.
• To reconstruct and remake the social fabric and the community living of the families is dangerous because it undermines the basis of the system of domination. This is why John the Baptist was killed. He had a project to reform human living together (cf. Lk 3, 7-14). He carried out the mission of Elijah (Lk 1, 17). This is why he was killed.
• Jesus continues the same mission of John: to reconstruct the life in community. Because God is Father, we are all brothers and sisters. Jesus joins together two loves: love toward God and love toward neighbour and makes them visible in the form of living together. This is why, like John, he was put to death. This is why Jesus, the Son of Man, will be condemned to death.
• Placing myself in the position of the disciples: does the ideology of consumerism have power over me?
• Placing myself in the position of Jesus: Do I have the force to react and to create a new human way of living together?
Lord, in Your own way remove everything that makes it hard for me to see You clearly today.
May your help be with the man of your right hand,
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
Source: THE ORDER OF CARMELITES - www.ocarm.org
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