You may know that the most common admonition in Scripture is "Be not afraid" or some variation thereof. We see one in today's first reading from Isaiah 41. "It is I who say to you, 'Fear not, I will help you.'"
In the Gospel reading from Matthew 11, Jesus speaks of John the Baptist. He says, "All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear."
The Jews knew that Elijah's return would usher in the age of the Messiah. But perhaps they didn't recognize him because he came in an unexpected way. In Luke 1:17, the angel of the Lord tells Zechariah that his son (John) would come "in the spirit and power of Elijah." And so Jesus says that John is even greater than Elijah; indeed, "among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist."
Father, we thank you for the greatness of John the Baptist and pray that we may prepare the way for the Lord as he did. Amen.
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