Readings for Today
Elijah had a rather interesting prophetic career. He had successes and failures, he felt strongly the presence of God and found him to be distant, and had a life filled with ups and downs. His life was filled with the miraculous, whether it was defeating the numerous prophets of Baal or being taken up into heaven. He wanted to die, and he kept a widow and her son from dying from famine. Over time, his return was associated with the coming of the Messiah. Just as it was a magnificent whirlwind of fire that took up Elijah, so too his return would be a sign of the whirlwind of God’s Messiah, His Son, would arrive soon.
In many ways, that John the Baptist is identified as Elijah should not come as a surprise. He is steeped in signs from the Old Testament. He goes to the desert (sign of reform and the quest for God), eats locusts (sign of plague) and wild honey (sign of the promised land), has success and is ultimately killed. His preaching not only tills the soil for finding God’s presence in their daily lives, but also prepares their hearts for the coming of Jesus. He knows who he is, and has no delusions of grandeur.
Just as Elijah and John the Baptist were faithful to the call to prepare the way of the Lord, so to0 to we find ourselves with the same message. We are also charged with pointing out the presence of God wherever we see it. Like John the Baptist, we too are called to be such a witness that others can more clearly see the presence of God in their lives. But if our words are to have meaning, they need to be backed by the power of our actions.