Gospel Reading: Matthew 17:9a,10-13
9a And as they were coming down the mountain 10 the disciples asked him, "Then why do the scribes say that first Eli'jah must come?" 11 He replied, "Eli'jah does come, and he is to restore all things; 12 but I tell you that Eli'jah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands." 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
Reading: Sirach 48:1-4,9-11 (deutero-canonical)
1 Then the prophet Elijah arose like a fire, and his word burned like a torch. 2 He brought a famine upon them, and by his zeal he made them few in number. 3 By the word of the Lord he shut up the heavens, and also three times brought down fire. 4 How glorious you were, O Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! And who has the right to boast which you have? 9 You who were taken up by a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with horses of fire; 10 you who are ready at the appointed time, it is written, to calm the wrath of God before it breaks out in fury, to turn the heart of the father to the son, and to restore the tribes of Jacob. 11 Blessed are those who saw you, and those who have been adorned in love; for we also shall surely live.
Meditation: God gives signs to show what he is about to do. John the Baptist is one such sign, who pointed to Jesus and prepared the way for his coming. John fulfilled the essential task of all the prophets: to be fingers pointing to Jesus Christ. John is the last and greatest prophet of the old kingdom, the old covenant. The Jews expected that when the Messiah would come, Elijah would appear to announce his presence. John fills the role of Elijah and prepares the way for the coming of Jesus Christ by preaching a baptism of repentance and renewal. As watchful servants, we, too must prepare for the Lord's coming again by turning away from sin and from everything that would keep us from pursuing his will. Are you eager to do God's will and are you prepared to meet the Lord Jesus when he returns in glory?
"Lord Jesus, stir my zeal for your righteousness and for your kingdom. Free me from complacency and from compromising with the ways of sin and worldliness that I may be wholeheartedly devoted to you and to your kingdom."