Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church
December 14, 2019
Today, in Mercy, we think about John the Baptist. For several days in this middle part of Advent, our Gospel makes reference to John, the Precursor of the Messiah.
Faithful Jews had an expectation that there would be a Messiah, and that a fiery Precursor would announce him. They identified this forerunner with the prophet Elijah, based on writings like today’s from Sirach:
How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds!
Whose glory is equal to yours?
You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with fiery horses.
You were destined, it is written, in time to come
to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD…
In our Gospel, Jesus indicates that John the Baptist is the new Elijah, preparing the way for Jesus’s ministry.
Scripture scholars can get pretty bundled up in trying to explicate the meanings around Elijah and his return. For the purpose of our prayer, I find it helpful to take another approach.
- What is it in my life that prepares me to receive God in my heart?
- What inspires me “prepare the way of the Lord” in the worlds that I touch?
- Do I pay attention to God’s “announcements”, those quiet inklings that tell me God is trying to make something new in my life?
Jesus says that Elijah “has already come” but has been rejected by the people.
- Are there habits and choices in my life that make it hard for God to get through to me?
- Maybe God is sending an “Elijah”or “Baptist” my way today. Will I recognize that Precursor? Will I be open to the message?
Music: Days of Elijah – Robin Mark.
The commentary in the Worship & Song Leader’s Edition contains a good summary of this hymn’s text: “This is a song of victory and of hope, of God’s triumph forever over death and of Christ’s eternal reign. It also calls believers to stand fast, even in the face of troubles, and to witness to the promised coming of Christ.”