“In those days,
like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah
whose words were as a flaming furnace.
Their staff of bread he shattered,
in his zeal he reduced them to straits;
By the Lord’s word he shut up the heavens
and three times brought down fire.
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,
To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons,
and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob.
Blessed is he who shall have seen you
and who falls asleep in your friendship.” Sirach 48: 1-4, 9-11
Today’s reading from Sirach is—to put it gently—on the dramatic side. From the “flaming furnace” to “wondrous deeds,” the incredible power of the prophet Eljah—“taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with fiery horses”—creates an exhilarating vision that fills us both with excitement, and a little trepidation. In fact it has all the potential of a Hollywood blockbuster!
In the reading we’re told to expect Elijah before the coming of Jesus Christ and to put our homes in order. Yet, in the Gospel from Matthew today, Jesus states that Elijah has indeed already come: “They did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased.” The disciples realized that he spoke of the spirit of Elijah that was reflected in John the Baptist.
While you could reasonably feel a little confused, we’re called to consider that just as Elijah’s presence wasn’t recognized, we also don’t see the different ways Jesus Himself has entered into our lives. We shouldn’t await His theatrical entrance accompanied by a choir of angels…we need to listen to see How he is present with us every day!
And now, as we prepare for His coming in just a couple of weeks, we should concentrate on muting the noise in our everyday lives and listen to how Jesus speaks to us. Whether it’s through a baby’s laughter, or a smile from the cashier, Jesus is present with us. He’s been with us since Bethlehem. We’ve often been too busy to notice, but once we can recognize that He is constantly by our side, we will feel an eternal peace in our hearts.
O God, who by the Immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin
prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son,
grant, we pray,
that, as you preserved her from every stain
by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw,
so, through her intercession,
we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.