Preparing for the Lord’s Coming

Matthew 17:9a,10-13
Sir 48:1-4,9-11 / Psa 80

…taken up in the whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with fiery horses; designated in the prophecies of doom to allay God’s wrath before the fury breaks, to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children, and to restore the tribes of Jacob.
(Sirach 48:9-10)

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

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 to them about John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:9a,10-13)

Reflection

St. John the Baptist was the last herald of God before His Word finally became flesh. Elijah was the first of 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 these 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 return to herald the coming of the Messiah.

Elijah had indeed returned—in the person of St. John the Baptizer. Have you noticed how in every season of Advent he has always been playing an important role? 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!” Note that when our Lord said, “So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands,” He was also referring to us whenever 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 indeed a great insult to God because the sinner takes for granted the great sacrifice and death that God had gone through to save him in His boundless love for mankind.

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 for His coming. We failed to “recognize Him” in the faces of hungry and needy people who seem to be more persistent in begging during the Yuletide season. Or perhaps we were just 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. In our “busy-ness” we have forgotten to give proper honor to the Celebrant, and significance to our celebration.

Preparing ourselves for Christ’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 of the year when we start making our so-called “New Year’s Resolutions”. May we give more weight to our resolutions for the coming year, and may all of them lead us to grow more prayerful, more charitable, more forgiving, and more conscious of our responsibilities at home, in our place of work, and in our community.

As we prepare ourselves for Your Son’s coming, Lord God, inspire us to become more involved in acts of kindness, as much as in making commitments for the coming new year. As this is the time of the year when we start making our “New Year’s Resolutions”, may we resolve above everything to be faithful to Him. Amen.

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