Sir 48:1-4, 9-11; Matt 17:9a, 10-13
The Coming of Elijah
I read this story about a group of high school students who was decorating their school auditorium in preparation for Christmas celebration. Since for them the crucifix did not seem appropriate for the season of Christmas, they were thinking of removing it from the wall when one of their teachers, a priest, walked in. He urged the students to allow the crucifix to remain. He said: “after all, the reason why Jesus Christ was born is to die on the cross.”
It seems inappropriate for us to laugh when one of our relatives is dead. It seems inappropriate for us to talk about passion and death during the season of Christmas. But let us bear in mind that we could not separate the cross from the birth of Jesus. It is not a sign of humiliation but a sign of glory. Jesus was born in order to save us from anything that is evil.
Today’s gospel passage speaks about these three great prophets: Elijah, John the Baptist and Jesus Himself. These three knew that they were sent by God to speak about God, to stand and talk about the truth of God. They are not afraid what will happen to them because they speak the truth. But the people refused to listen to their message, they made fun of them, criticized and rejected them and these three prophets died at early age.
The prophet is someone who is the mouthpiece of God. He stands between God and the people to communicate to them the word of God. When the prophet speaks as the mouthpiece he is inspired and without error. The prophet is not a puppet or a mindless repeater of what he hears. Just like what happen to some of our brothers and sisters nowadays, instead of acting as prophets, they act like puppets because they speak what others want to say and not what God has to say. But a prophet retains his own will, mind and thoughts as he speaks for God. God would put His words in their mouths (Deut. 18:18; Jer. 1:9). A prophet was God’s servant (Zech. 1:6) and messenger (2 Chr. 36:15).
A prophet is not: a deceiver or somebody who deceived others into believing that his message is true (Jer. 23); A liar or somebody who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist, he denies the Father and the Son (1John 2:22); a heretic or somebody who preaches heresy (false doctrine) and divide the church (1John 2:19, 2Peter 2:1, 12); a blasphemer or somebody who speaks evil of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the people of God, the kingdom of God and the attributes of God (Jude 4, 10, 12, 13; 1Tim. 1:13); a seducer (Mk 13:22). Spiritual seduction is a very real threat because few genuine but deceived believers may be found among the cults.
I remember when Bebeth Orteza was interviewed why she joined in that Makati stand off last November 29, 2007. She said that she had a cancer but she wants to die serving the country rather that die and not doing anything for the country. She sounded like a prophet.