Today’s first reading is from the Book of Sirach. The author talks of Elijah, “whose words were a flaming furnace.” Then in the Gospel reading from Matthew 17, the disciples ask Jesus, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answers and tells them that “Elijah has already come.” But the scribes missed the boat. The disciples understood that Jesus was talking about John the Baptist.
After being taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire, Elijah was to return to usher in the age of the Messiah. Sirach says of him, “You were destined…to put an end to wrath before the day of the Lord, to turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons…” To prepare the way of the Lord. But the scribes missed it because he came in way that they didn’t expect.
Isn’t that how Christ came? Unexpectedly? He came as a little child, born of humble circumstances. Who could have seen that one coming? But isn’t that the way God operates? I’ve found that he rarely makes things cyrstal clear as they are happening. Oh, now and again we recognize it. But for the most part, we only get it in hindsight. So I guess that it stands to reason that, with God, we should always be prepared for a surprise.
Father, thank you for keeping us on our toes; for throwing us curveballs; for dealing with us in unexpected ways. Help us to keep our eyes open and our minds alert. Amen.