Listen To The Prophets

Saturday of Week 2 in Advent

Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11 & Mt. 17:10-13

In these weeks of Advent we hear a great deal about the prophets. The whole of Old Testament history was leading towards Christ's coming, and it is the prophets who tried to prepare His people to receive Him. Some like Isaiah, consoled the people with a vision of future happiness and peace. Others, like Elijah, exhorted them to repent and change their ways. In today’s first reading, we see how Elijah's preaching was like a torch, his words burning like fire into the consciences of his listeners.

John the Baptist has been compared with Elijah because he, too, brought a disturbing message. He heralded the coming of the Messiah, but he warned the people that they must prepare themselves by a complete change of heart. Many people responded to his call, and received baptism from him, but others rejected him, as Elijah previously had been rejected.

In the Gospel story, Jesus and His disciples are coming down from a mountain, having just shared a profound experience. Jesus had been transfigured and in His presence Elijah and Moses had appeared. It was not surprising that the disciples should refer to Elijah as they had so recently seen him talking with Jesus and He used this opportunity to tell them that John the Baptist was a second Elijah, preaching the same message of repentance. Both of these prophets were ignored and rejected. Jesus tried to make the disciples understand that He too would be rejected, and ill-treated.

What message can we take from today's readings? Is Jesus warning us that we must not reject the teaching of Elijah and John the Baptist, who came to prepare us for the coming of the Messiah? How appropriate that these readings should occur at the middle of the season of Advent. Are we preparing well for the Lord's coming this Christmas? If not, we should do something about it today, because this next half of Advent is going to fly by and we don't want to find ourselves on Christmas Day unprepared to welcome our Saviour.

Lord Jesus, in the two weeks that remain of Advent, may we prepare well for Your coming.