First Reading: Mal 3:1-4, 23-24
Thus says the Lord GOD:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,1
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner’s fire,
or like the fuller’s lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.
Lo, I will send you
Elijah, the prophet,
Before the day of the LORD comes,
the great and terrible day,
To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,
and the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike
the land with doom.
Gospel: Lk 1:57-66
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”
I had always assumed that the Jewish people were still waiting for the Messiah. Last year it occurred to me to “google” it. Just as all Christians are not the same, the Jewish people are not the same. The article that I found had short responses to this question from ten different people from ten different Jewish groups. In general, what I found was that the Jewish people are not waiting for the Messiah; however, there is a strong belief in a Messianic Age. This Messianic Age will be brought about by people collectively working to bring about a more just world.
Our first reading says that the Lord is sending the prophet Elijah to prepare the way for the day of the Lord. The gospel tells us about the birth of John the Baptist, whose job it was to prepare the way for the Lord. From the Christian perspective, we are not waiting for the first entrance of the Messiah, but we are waiting for the return of the Messiah, for the second coming of Jesus, the Christ, Jesus the Messiah. Before he left this world, he commanded his followers to go and make disciples of all the world, baptizing people in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The scriptures tell us that God does not delay, in the way that we understand delay. Rather God is waiting in order to maximize the crop yield, waiting for the most to be saved. This is what we always need to have in mind. As a teacher, they tell us to begin with the end in mind, the goal. Our goal, as disciples of the Lord, as members of God’s family is too maximize the crop. God’s singular business is loving others and bringing about the Kingdom of God.
In this, we can see our oneness with the Jewish people. They may not be looking for a messiah, but they do continue to look for a more just and caring world. Amongst the many different categories of people in this world are two that I want to mention. There are many people who profess a belief in God but are not big on loving others. There is also a group that is big on loving others but is not big on acknowledging God. Our mission is to both acknowledge God, giving God his due, and love others. It is in this sense that we work to bring the Kingdom of God more thoroughly into our physical reality.
We are the messengers who acknowledge, love and honor to God. One of the ways we do that is by being faithful partners in the family business of bringing love and justice to all people. Sharing God’s love with others. Let us go and bring forth the Kingdom of God. Let us prepare the world as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear Lord, as we wait for the second coming of our Christ, help me to always seek you and your ways before all else. Help me to work for your glory and not to seek the splendors of this world. When I put myself first, help me to return to your path. Help me to remember that if I allow you to work through me, I can do what you have called me to do, to prepare the world for your coming, to bring forth the Kingdom of God.
Rev. Fr. Louie Amezaga
Associate Pastor – Holy Family American National Catholic Church