Sir 48:1-4, 9-11; Matt 17:9a, 10-13
The Coming of Elijah
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:
There are personalities in our lives as Filipinos whom we cannot just brush aside in our memory. These are: Dr. Jose Rizal, Gen Douglas McArthur, Pres. Manuel L. Quezon, Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, Sen. Benigno Aquino, Erap, Dolphy, etc. This is likewise true in the Bible. There are personalities whom the Jews cannot forget. Among these is the famous prophet Elijah. He is mentioned in both readings today.
The Jews during the time of Jesus believed that Elijah will return in the days of the Messiah. For them, he was a man raised from the dead by God; he was taken into heaven by means of a chariot of fire. Thus he was a sign of hope and salvation for them. And he must come first before the Messiah.
Jesus has reiterated in the gospel that it was of no use to wait for Elijah for he come but people did not recognize him; people rejected and persecuted him. The Messiah was already in their midst. However, he will also suffer the same fate as Elijah did. He is “Elijah” par excellence because he will suffer, die on the cross and will rise from the dead. He will bring hope and salvation to his people. And he will become the profound sign of God’s visitation to his people.
God through his son Jesus Christ continues to come and visit our lives as Christians. Indeed, he comes to us in the word of God, in the faces of the poor and needy, the community that gathers together in his name, in his ministers, in the “signs of the times,” and in most special way, in the sacred species of bread and wine. Do we recognize his presence in them? Do we appreciate and appropriate his coming into our lives now? Or does our life reflect an utter rejection of him like the people in the OT and his time? (Fr. Jerome Cayetano, SVD Bible Diary 2004)
Today’s gospel is all about Mr. Right, the right man to foretell the coming of the Messiah. According to the scribes, members of a learned class in Jesus’ time who studied scriptures and serves as copyists, editors and teachers, the prophet Elijah is the right person to prepare the coming of the Messiah. Elijah is a well-known prophet of the Old Testament, predating Jesus by centuries. Elijah’s return to earth is the great sign that the expected Savior is coming as prophesied by another prophet named Malachi (3:23-24), “Lo, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and terrible day, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their father, lest I come and strike the land with doom.” The precursor of the Messiah as portrayed in Malachi’s prophecy is a terrible man preaching doom and destruction.
In the midst of all these predictions, the person of John the Baptist materialized. He announced the coming of the Messiah, somebody greater than him. Some Jews believed, but the scribes did not. For them, John’s person and message was not “according to the book.” He preached about baptism and personal conversion, not about the terror that will go with the day of the Lord. For them John was not Elijah. He was not Mr. Right.
The season of Advent assists us to locate the right signs that lead us to an encounter with the Lord. Signs can be occasions, venues, persons or anything that bring us to a spiritual experience. There are signs that are “according to the book” or they were taught us. For example, in the Eucharist, Christ is present, or when we read the Bible, God is like speaking to us. However, personal response, conversion and commitment are “unbooked.” These “unbooked” experiences make one a Mr. or Ms. Right to announce that Christ indeed is alive. (Fr. Gerry del Pinado, SVD Bible Diary 2005)
The time of Advent is really one of preparation for the celebration of Christmas even as there has always been the Parousia angle of it which the Church has kept since Christ ascended back to the Father. Christmas and the Parousia are beautiful events. We Filipinos make Christmas our time for family reunions and reconciliations. Even the military and the rebels set up a truce if only this spirit of love become real in our midst. A TV advertisement shows it all: the daughter with her child coming back to the welcoming arms of her father (who must have thrown her out upon knowing she was with child) and the happiness of the family seeing a long-lost member come back. The Paruosia is basically Christ coming back to bring us all who await for Him to heaven, where there is “no more suffering, no more tears, no more sadness,” (Roman canon for Children # 3).
Waiting thus becomes a part of the whole preparation for both events. As the readings indicate, God’s coming into our midst is preceded by Elijah whose destiny it was “to put an end to wrath before the day of the Lord, to turn back the hearts of fathers towards their sons.” (Sir 48:10). Isn’t this the repentance and conversion that usually lead to reconciliation and forgiveness John the Baptist announced? “Advent” prophets were these two, and happy were they who saw God in Jesus when he came into their midst.
The image of our preparation for his coming can be painted this way: we know Someone great will come, so we clean up; when the day comes, there is no need for us to be afraid and ashamed, but only celebrate with for we have indeed feel him important and welcome. If we don’t prepare for His coming and we show the One who comes our dirty surroundings and broken relationships, our faces will only blush with shame and our actions masked with fear. These only show how unimportant He is to us. In the tension that ensues, the One who comes may even suffer in our hands. (Fr. Bernardo R. Collera, SVD Bible Diary 2007)
The 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian Kierkegaard once relates the following story containing an important message that is surely valid ‘til today: A traveling circus once broke into flames just after it had encamped outside a Danish village. The manager turned to the performers who were already dressed for their acts, and sent the clown to call the villagers to help put out the fire which could destroy not only the circus but might race through the dry fields And envelop the town itself. Dashing pell-mell to the village square, the painted clown shouted to everyone to come to the circus and help put out the fire. The villagers laughed and applauded this novel way of tricking them into coming to the circus. The clown wept and pleaded. He insisted that he was not putting on an act but the town really was in mortal danger. The more he implored the more the villagers howled….until the fire leaped across the fields and spread to the town itself. Before the villagers knew it, their homes had been destroyed.
The gospel speaks of three prophets: Elijah, John the Baptist and Jesus Himself. No doubt there is a great resemblance: each one of them knew himself to be sent by God, to stand and speak up for God’ truth, unafraid of any consequences. They all defended the poor and did things differently. Contemporaries refused to listen to their message, they made fun of them, criticized and rejected them. All died an early death, yet they and their messages are remembered ‘til today.
Who and where are the prophets in our midst today…. Those concerned about the environment, the shaky stage of our natural resources, the dwindling supply of clean drinking water, those who point to graft and corruption….’til today God needs witnesses. Are we such? Witnesses then and, as St. Francis of Assisi suggested, only when absolutely necessary, use words. (Fr. Heinz Kulueke, SVD Bible Diary 2008)
December 10, 2016 Saturday
This brief passage refers to prophetic figures, mentioning in particular Elijah as well as John the Baptist, considered the last in the long line of pre-Jesus (Old Testament) prophets. Prophets were God’s spokespersons. God sent them to announce his word and to proclaim his will. In Jesus we had the prophet par excellence, for who could be more prophetic and reveal God more completely than the Divine Word who became flesh.
The messages of the prophets addressed all aspects of human life (personal, institutional, social, economic, religious, etc.) and all classes of society (leaders and masses, sophisticated and simple). Depending on what their messages brought, prophets before Jesus were either hailed as ‘prophets of hope’ or reviled as ‘prophets of doom’. Understandably, perhaps, prophets who brought ‘bad news’ – of God’s displeasure at people’s in fidelity and hardheartedness, injustice and other forms of wickedness – were unwelcome and rejected, persecuted and even killed. Jesus predicted that he would suffer the same fate: “So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.”
The days of the Biblical prophets are long gone, but the prophetic voice has not lost, nor will ever lose, its relevance. There will always be voices sent by God to warn us of our waywardness, to awaken us from complacency and indifference, to challenge and inspire us to rise above our mediocrities and pettiness and to call us back from the sinful path of selfishness to that of love as revealed and incarnated by Jesus Christ. God never ceases to call us to seek him (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 30). But what do we do when we actually hear such prophetic voices today, especially if they are directed at us? If today you hear his voice, says the psalmist, harden not your hearts! (Ps. 95,8). (Fr. Paulino Belamide, SVD | Rome, Italy Bible Diary 2016)
December 15, 2012
St. Mary di Rosa
Saturday of the
Second Week of Advent
Sir 48:1-4, 9-11
Mt 17:9a, 10-13
Mt 17:9a, 10-13
The Coming of Elijah
9aAs they were coming down from the mountain, 10the disciples asked [Jesus], “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 11He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; 12but 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.” 13Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
Elijah has already come. The Jewish people believe that the coming of the Messiah will be preceded by the return of the prophet Elijah as his forerunner and herald (cf Mal 3:23). John the Baptist announces the coming of the Messiah. He prepares the people, calling them to reform themselves, turn away from sin and selfishness, and welcome the Messiah. The ways of this Messiah are service and forgiveness, love and compassion. The Jews, unfortunately, do not accept this kind of Messiah.
Elijah and John the Baptist are alike in several ways. Both preach a message of repentance and call for a change of heart. They are persecuted by religious leaders and civil rulers to the point of death. Elijah must escape to Mount Horeb; John is jailed and beheaded by Herod. Elijah came “to restore all things,” and John preached to make straight the Lord’s paths.
Jesus takes the same path in God’s service. It is the way of the cross, of pain and suffering, of sacrifice and self-giving. He challenges us to preach God by our lives and by our crosses.
As Jesus’ birthday draws near, what is it in your life that needs to be restored or straightened up?
Saturday of the 2nd Week of Advent (Year C) Mateo 17:10-13. Unsa man ang dakong panawagan para kanato ning Adbyento? Ang mga Judeo nagtoo nga kon muabot na ang Mesiyas, ipadala sa Ginoo si propeta Elias aron pagsangyaw mahitungod niini. Si Juan mao ang katumanan sa papel ni Elias ug nag-andam sa dalan sa Manluluwas pinaagi sa pag-awhag sa mga tawo nga magbag-o ug maghinulsol sa mga sala. Isip mga magtutoo, angay kitang mosanong sa panawagan ni Juan. Andamon nato ang atong kasingkasing pinaagi sa paghinulsol sa atong mga sala ug pagkumpisal niini ngadto sa pari. Dugang pa niini, andamon nato ang atong kaugalingon pinaagi sa pagpakighiuli sa atong isigkatawo, ilabi na sa atong mga kaaway. Kon mahimo nato kini, sigurado gayod nga mahimong makahuloganon ang atong pagsaulog sa Pasko. (Fr. Abet Uy)
COMMUNICATING BETTER – John the Baptist is one biblical character linked to our Advent liturgy. We refer to him as the last prophet, the precursor who had been sent to prepare the way for his cousin, Jesus the Christ. John was likened to Elijah in the Old Testament. It is said that he dressed like Elijah, but more importantly, John’s style of preaching and his temper reminded people of the fiery character of Elijah. John was zealous about his mission to bring the children of Israel back to righteousness with God. These prophets were, through time, God’s “mouthpiece,” or “nabi” in Hebrew.
Communication, however, is not realized with the powerful communicator alone or achieved with a good message. It needs the receptivity and interactivity of the ones being communicated to. At the least, there must be connectivity of mind, of language — to have comprehension. This connectivity involves sharing a commonality of “real time.” Communicator and the one communicated to must be “really present” to and with one another. As my Jesuit professor Fr. Ruben Tanseco loves to put it, there must be “mutual empathy.”
We live in a blessed age of communication. We have the gift of technologies and gadgets that enable us to shrink differences of time and distances, transcend seasons and weather systems, to be linked and connected with people. But we are not necessarily communicating better now than before. In fact, within the first circle of communication — that is, among family members — there are so many wants for better receptivity and interaction. We have efficient tools but we lack effective communication.
Jesus’ words, dating to more than 2,000 years ago, explore the issue of divine communication with humanity. His birth as God-Man aimed to bring this divine communication to its peak and clearest level. He, however, points to the same crucial need in communication: receptivity, recognition, openness, empathy on the part of humanity to whom God loves to communicate with.Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: How is your communication with God? How is your communication with your family? What are your struggles in being communicated to?
More than communicating with others, help me to connect better with You, O Lord. Amen.
December 10, 2016
A lot of people imagine that it would be a good thing for humans to know in advance when they will die. Why? Because they think that humans could be better prepared when the time came for them to meet their Maker.
Perhaps. But when we study the case of people who do know when they are to die (because their doctor told them or because they have been condemned to death by a criminal court), we notice that this prospect weighs on them like a terrible burden and robs them of any real joy in living.
Well, Jesus knew he was going to die of a terribly agonizing death. We do not know how exactly he came about this knowledge (a special revelation from God? the descriptions of the Servant of Yahweh’s sufferings in Isaiah? the mounting hatred he encountered?), but the fact remains that he had that knowledge, and it weighed so heavily on his mind that he frequently referred to his death—sometimes just in passing, as in today’s gospel reading, sometimes in great detail. This certainty of his impending death was an added suffering that he endured out of love for us.
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