Matthew 17:9a, 10–13
“Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him.…”
Today’s Gospel and first reading focus on the prophet Elijah. The disciples ask Jesus, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” They are probably referring to the text from the prophet Malachi, “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 the children to their fathers …” (Mal 3:23–24). In answering their question, Jesus indicates that John the Baptist is the new Elijah: “I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him.…”
When the angel Gabriel announces to Zechariah the birth of John the Baptist, the angel speaks of John as a new Elijah: “He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and … to prepare a people fit for the Lord” (Lk 1:17).
John the Baptist’s mission, like Elijah’s, involves healing family relationships. Our society today sorely needs such healing. Many people have been deeply hurt in various ways by other family members. Jesus took all of that pain and nailed it to the cross. We can unite our pain to his and he will heal us of our wounds. We can confess whatever ways we may have hurt others. Saint Paul says, “And you who once were alienated … he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him …” (Col 1:21–22).
Is there some relationship in your life that needs healing and reconciliation? Ask the Lord to give you the healing you desire. Even if the other person cannot or will not respond, Jesus can remove the pain from your heart. Our peace of mind does not depend on the attitudes that other people hold toward us. It depends only on what the Lord is doing in us. And he always brings grace.
Lord Jesus, I ask you for the grace of healing in my life. Restore broken relationships, especially the ones in which I have suffered the most pain. Forgive me, too, for any ways in which I may have hurt other persons. If I am still clinging to any resentment or bitterness, help me to let go of it and to forgive. Bring peace and joy to my family, so that together we may celebrate your coming at Christmas with love and reconciliation.
“Then the disciples understood.”
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2009). Advent Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 40–41). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.