[As they were coming down from the mountain,
the disciples asked Jesus,
“Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;
but I tell you that Elijah has already come,
and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased.
So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.”
Then the disciples understood
that He was speaking to them of John the Baptist.] (Mt 17:9a, 10-13)
In our Gospel today the disciples ask an honest question of Jesus. They question the common belief that Elijah the prophet would appear immediately prior to the arrival of the long awaited Messiah. Jesus affirms the truth of this belief and then interprets it. He declares John the Baptist to be the prophet Elijah. In so doing, Jesus declares Himself the Messiah.
The Scribes and Pharisees were supposed to be on the lookout for the Messiah, yet they missed Elijah by not recognizing him in the person of John the Baptist. Thus it’s easy to see how they’d miss the Messiah in the Person of Jesus. They were caught off guard because the way in which God acted was so surprising. The Messiah born a baby in a manger…The Messiah eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners….The Messiah dying on a cross.
I bet God has acted very surprisingly in your life as well, ways in which you never even dreamed of. How your prayers were answered….Past bad experiences that enable you to help others now…People you’ve met and friends you’ve made….
Take a few moments to reflect on God’s surprising actions in your life this past year so that you can better prepare your heart for the surprises He has in store for you this Christmas and in the year to come.