Preparing for the Coming of the Lord!

Matthew 17: 9-13
Sir 48: 1-4. 9-11/ Ps 80: 2ac and 3b. 15-16, 18-19

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.
(Matthew 17:12)

Make straight our ways, repent from sins!
Else how can we recognize Him?
He has come “to restore all things,”
Our Lord and Savior, King of kings.

Jesus had just been transfigured, and as He was coming down from the mountain with His apostles, they 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.

Reflection

St. John the Baptist was the last herald of God before His Word finally became flesh. Elijah was the first among the great prophets of the Old Testament who singlehandedly faced 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah in Mt. Carmel to show the people of Israel their folly in following the false gods of King Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings, 18:19-40). Elijah was taken up alive by a flaming chariot into heaven (2 Kings 2:11). The Jews believed that he would one day return to herald the coming of the Messiah. In the book of Malachi, the last prophet in the Old Testament, he prophesied God saying, “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 fathers…” (Mal 3:23-24). The angel Gabriel announced the same message about John the Baptist, when he told Zechariah, “He will go before (Jesus) in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers towards children… to prepare a people fit for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).

Elijah had indeed returned — in the person of St. John. Have you noticed that he has been playing an important role in every season of Advent? That’s because he was commissioned by God since conception to prepare the people for their redemption. Once again he cries: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!” When our Lord said, “So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands,” He also meant that this happens everytime we fall into grievous sin. Let us not forget that He had already done everything that any man or God could give to redeem us. Sin is really a great insult to God because the sinner takes for granted Christ’s great sacrifice and death and his boundless love.

Repentance cleans us of our sins and makes us whole again so that we can recognize the importance of Advent in our lives. Our God is a God of compassion, and forgives us for not having prepared ourselves well to “recognize Him” in the faces of hungry and needy people. We were probably too preoccupied with decorating our Christmas tree, hanging yuletide decors in the house, and going to the malls for the gifts of our numerous godchildren.

Preparing ourselves for God’s coming not only involves being more charitable, but also in making commitments to the Lord for the coming new year. That’s why this is the time when we start making our so-called “New Year’s Resolutions” in order to reform our lives.

Father God, help us with your grace to put ourselves in the right disposition in preparing for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. Let the power of Your Holy Spirit guide us to true repentance by sharing our resources with the needy during this season of giving, so that we can celebrate more meaningfully the birth of our Lord Jesus. Amen.

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