Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we draw ever closer to Christmas day, which is just ten days away from now, the Scripture passages remind us all of the need to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord, which is in tandem with the nature of this season of Advent, that is the preparation and the expectation for the coming of Christ. The readings today are comparing between two servants of God, namely the prophet Elijah from the time of the Old Testament and St. John the Baptist from the time of the New Testament.
The prophet Elijah came at a time when the faithful people in Israel, in the kingdom descended from David and Solomon, had been dwindling in number, persecuted and oppressed for their faith. The prophet Elijah was sent to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, consisting of the ten tribes that rebelled against the authority of the house of David in Judah. In that kingdom, the kings have not been faithful to the Covenant that God has made with His people Israel. Instead, they have led the people to the worship of the pagan idols like Baal and Asherah.
The prophet Elijah had to contend alone against the king, his nobles, all the influential and powerful people in the society, all of whom were on the side of the pagan idols and gods. For example, Elijah was alone when he had to contend against four hundred and fifty priests of Baal at the Mount Carmel before the king and the people of Israel, seeing whom between the Lord YHVH and Baal is the one and only true God.
And God proved His power before the assembled people, when He sent fire to burn the offering provided by Elijah from heaven itself, while the followers of Baal attempted furiously without success, to call on Baal, the imaginary and false god of the pagans at that time. Elijah was the instrument through whom God exercised His might and revealed His truth before His people, as he performed that miraculous deeds, with many others recorded in the Old Testament.
Elijah brought with him the deliverance from God, the promise of salvation and liberation, for the people who have been blinded by sin, and for those who have been oppressed because of their belief in God. He essentially prepared the way for the coming of God’s kingdom to come, and anointed his successor Elisha the prophet to continue his work among the Israelites. Yet, his work was not yet complete, for he was taken up in a flaming chariot before Elisha into heaven.
Since then, among the people of Israel, it was said that Elijah the prophet would come again one day and be among God’s people once again. It was said that Elijah would come again to prepare the way for the Messiah or the Saviour which God has promised to His people. And this was fulfilled when St. John the Baptist came into this world, just before the coming of the Messiah, preparing His way and straightening the path for Him.
St. John the Baptist, in the Lord’s own words, is the second coming of the prophet Elijah, and whether he was truly Elijah or not, is indeed a mystery of God’s will. But nonetheless, he did what the Lord commanded him to do, to bear witness to the Saviour Who was to come, and to proclaim to all, the coming of God’s mercy and forgiveness, for all those who are willing to repent and to turn away from their sinful ways. He baptised many, countless thousands in the River Jordan.
Therefore today, as we reflect on the works and the lives of the two great servants of God, Elijah and St. John the Baptist, we must indeed come to realise just how great God’s love is for us, that He gave us all these devout and hardworking servants, through whom He endeavoured to reveal the greatness and the boundless nature of His love. His love for us is vast and never-ending, and this is also even when we have constantly disappointed Him and refused to listen to Him and His messengers.
Sadly, many of us continued to be stubborn in our refusal to listen to God, and that is caused by our inability to resist the many temptations in life, the temptations of worldly honour, glory, wealth and power, the temptations of pleasure, of fornication and impure lives. We have too many distractions that we indulge in, which prevented us from realising first of all, how wicked and sinful we have become, and also failing to know God’s love for us, and the mercy He is willing to show us.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we going to continue to disobey the Lord as many of our forefathers have done? If we choose to do so, then we must be prepared and be fully aware that the outcome for us may be nothing less than eternal damnation and suffering, of our own volition and free will, in choosing to turn away from God’s love and mercy. Now, we still have the opportunity to make a difference in our own lives, that God is calling on us to turn away from sin and to return to Him.
What should we do, brothers and sisters in Christ? We should spend the remaining time this Advent season to grow closer to God, and to rediscover that true joy of Christmas that all of us should find, that is the joy of having Christ as our Lord and Saviour, the source of all of our hope and the one trus desire of our lives. This is what we should aim for this Advent, beginning from ourselves, by spending more time in prayer, to be ever closer to God and to know His will for us.
May the Lord continue to love us and may He forgive us our sins, as we come to seek His mercy and forgiveness. O Lord, You Who are most loving and merciful, have mercy on us and make us all to grow ever deeper in our love for You, knowing just how much You have loved us, that You have done everything for us, even to suffer and die for our sake on the cross. May You bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.