2nd Week of Advent, Saturday, Dec 12

Ecclesiasticus 48:1-4, 9-11 / Matthew 17:10-13

 Great are you, Elijah: You are destined to return. 

Elijah is described as parting life in a fiery chariot. (2 Kings 2:11) Symbolic or not, the description gave rise to the popular belief that Elijah would return to prepare the way for the “Day of the Lord.” To this very day, Orthodox Jews put an empty chair at the seder table for Elijah. Reform Jews put a “cup of Elijah” at the table. They hope this will be the year he’ll return.

Some New Testament Jews thought Jesus was Elijah returned. (Matthew 16:14) Jesus clarified the matter, telling his disciples that Elijah had already come, but people had not recognized him. “Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.” Matthew 17:13


To what extent are we heeding John’s message: “The right time has come. . . .Turn away from your sins”? There is no such thing as a sudden conversion. What is sudden is the realization that we’ve undergone a conversion.


Among the prophets of the Old Testament, one that was truly impressive and worked mighty deeds was the prophet Elijah, and the 1st reading makes a special mention of him. Indeed he "arose like a fire, his word flaring like a torch" and he worked many miracles, the most famous of which was when he called down fire from heaven at Mt. Carmel to consume the sacrifice to show the mighty power of God (1 Kings 18:20-39) 

But all that was to turn the people back to God and to restore Israel as the people of God. Yet people can just be interested in dramatic and the spectacular and fail to see the meaning of the message behind it. 

We too are easily attracted by the dramatic and the spectacular and the extraordinary and look for signs and wonders. We may even expect that God would reveal Himself in some kind of dramatic and spectacular and awesome signs. 

But as Jesus said in the gospel, Elijah came in the person of John the Baptist, and God came to visit His people in the Word made flesh. But John the Baptist and Jesus were just too ordinary, and hence they did not fit into people's expectations of how God would reveal Himself. 

The season of Advent is to prepare us to encounter and experience God in the ordinary. We need to quieten our hearts in prayer and to experience God in the ordinary. When Jesus came into this world at the first Christmas, it was just another ordinary day. When He comes to us today and even at Christmas, it will also be in an ordinary way. Let us be prepared.


Let us pray: God of power and mercy open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him when he comes in glory, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.