Saturday of the Second Week of Advent
Memorial Feast: Saint Damasus I (305-+384)—Patron Saint of Archaeologists
Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11, Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19, & Matthew 17:9a, 10-13
The Book of Sirach is considered to be a collection of the wisdom teachings of Yeshua be Eleazar ben Sira, a Jewish teacher from the second century. Most of the book is devoted to many wise sayings designed to show that Jewish wisdom tradition stands superior to the Hellenistic or Greek culture. However, the last half dozen chapters sing the praises of the great ancestors of Israel. In our selection today, ben Sira remembers Elijah, the great prophet who was taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot.
Elijah was a significant figure for the people of Israel. You didn't mess with Elijah. He beat back the many enemies of Israel and stormed heaven with his prayers. He brought lasting food and consolation to the gentile widow in a time of famine. Three times he called down fire from the heavens. He was promised to return to "set things right." As mentioned, you didn't mess with Elijah. Additionally, Elijah was to "put an end to wrath before the day of the Lord. To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons and re-establish the tribes of Jacob."
Having noted all of this, it seems surprising to me that Jesus, in today's Gospel narrative, says that "Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. So will the Son of Man will suffer at their hands." Then, Jesus' disciples realized He was speaking about John the Baptist. Jesus tells us that the reality of our final salvation has already come to pass for us. He has saved us as the Son of God. What a blessing that is for us. It means that we are already the inheritors of the promise of God.
Question of the Day: Will you see the face of God in others and be saved?
Prayer: Lord God, we pray that we understand what the wonders of the mystery of your love mean for us. Help us to receive it well and to serve it well in others. Amen.