Today’s Gospel: Matthew 11:11-15 – St. John of the Cross
“He is Elijah.” This is what Jesus tells the crowd about John the Baptist. Why? This doesn’t seem to make sense, especially to our modern ears. So was there a special significance to the Jews for calling John the Baptist Elijah? It turns out there is. The Jews knew they were expecting a Messiah, and had been told that a great prophet would precede him. In the Old Testament book of Malachi we are told about this prophet, who is referred to as Elijah (Mal 3:23).
Imagine being in that crowd and listening to Jesus speaking. Hearing His words would probably cause some eyebrows to raise and some murmuring to start as the people piece together what they just heard. Did Jesus really just say that? What does He mean? Is He also pointing to Himself as the expected Messiah?
Today we know that yes, Jesus was clearly pointing to John as the last of the great prophets and Himself as the Messiah. We also have the story of the angel visiting Zachariah in the Temple to tell him that he would have a son who would be a great prophet and come in the spirit of Elijah (Luke 1:17). The people listening to Jesus in today’s Gospel reading did not have this knowledge, but we can clearly see the connections.
In just about ten days we will be celebrating the nativity of Jesus. What perfect timing this reading is to remind us of the important role John the Baptist plays in directing us toward our coming Lord this Christmas.
Are you preparing for the upcoming birth of Jesus with a sense of anticipation and wonder? Why or why not?
Thank you, God, for this Advent season to prepare for the birth of Your Son. We pray that we will await His birth with the same sense of excited anticipation as Your prophet, John the Baptist.
Copyright 2017 Kerri Baunach
Kerri Baunach is a Catholic wife and mom to three amazing little boys and lives with her family in central Kentucky. She is also a Benedictine Oblate of St. Meinrad’s Archabbey. After 16 years as a music librarian, she left her job to stay home with her boys and start on a part-time homeschooling journey. Kerri is also a writer, editor, and main scheduler for CatholicSistas.com.
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