The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Xene Sanchez SVD — Congo, Africa
Saturday 2nd Week of Advent
Photo: Lines of houses in Lemba Foire, Kinshasa, Congo
It is a long-standing Jewish tradition to set aside an empty chair and a cup at table as the family gathers for meals. Until now, they are waiting for the coming of Elijah. When he does, redemption is near; he will announce the coming of the Messiah.
At the very end of the Old Testament in the book of Malachi, it reads: “Look I shall send you the prophet Elijah before the great and awesome Day of Yahweh comes. He will reconcile parents to their children and children to their parents, to forestall my putting the country under the curse of destruction” (3:23). As he was taken into heaven, so he will return (2 K 2:11-13).
The Gospel today records the conversation of Jesus with his disciples as they descended from the mountain where the Transfiguration had just happened. They have seen with their own eyes their Lord in his glory speaking with Moses and Elijah.
The question perturbing them was: if the Beloved Son of God did indeed already come, why have they not seen his much-awaited forerunner Elijah? Jesus told them clearly that Elijah already came in the person of John the Baptist. Was he not the voice who cried in the desert preparing for the coming of the Messiah?
The people did not recognize him since they were expecting a pompous liberation. Instead, he was decapitated. Till the end of his life, he continued to prepare the way for the true Messiah, the Son of Man who too had to suffer and die on the cross.
As we live the time of Advent, let us reserve a vacant place and expect a visitor. We welcome John the Baptist and recognize him as the one who will lead us to the coming of the Lord. If we recognize him, then he will bring a great blessing to our home, one of which is the reconciliation of parents and their children.
Let there be reconciliation among children, brothers and sisters, brothers and brothers, sisters, and sisters. May Christmas remove the curse of misunderstandings in our midst!