This is a syndicated post from Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse. [Read the original article...]
Saturday of the Second Week of Advent
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As they were coming down from the mountain, the disciples asked Jesus, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him…”
The scribes were right in their teaching and interpretation of scripture (Mal. 4:5) but wrong not to recognize John the Baptist as Elijah. Why?
Same story, just different names. What makes life extremely interesting is when you can get more out of it from the least of it. Believe me, life isn’t interesting for obvious reasons but for the not-so-obvious reasons. It isn’t interesting because you simply connected the dots, but because you took a closer look at what was in-between the dots.
Many of the movies we watch on the big screen are the stuff of real life dramas. The only differences being in the names, times, dates, places. As I mentioned briefly in a previous meditation, the Hunger Games could easily be an adaptation of the terrifying real life conditions in South Africa during Apartheid, with the “Capital” representing Johannesburg and the ”Districts” representing the nearby Townships. Or it could easily be called a modern day thriller of some well-known ancient killers known as Gladiators, who fought to the death in an arena with animals and other humans to win their long sought freedom.
Now there was no mention of God in the Hunger Games, and that was for obvious reasons: Look here! Look at what we have become devoid of God. There was also no mention of God (or prayer) in the movie Captain Phillips, and again, it was for obvious reasons: Hollywood’s on-going war against religious people and religion, with Christians and Christianity in the cross-hairs. I must admit, after watching the movie I thought to myself, “Could it be that Captain Phillips was an atheist? That he was not a religious-kind-of-guy at all?” I decided to do some research, and found an article in the New York Times. It was written way back when the captain was being held hostage. To my delight, five reporters contributed to the article. To my surprise, there was no mention of God or Church in their story. There was, however, a lot of wonderful insights regarding his life, family, friends and hobbies. So I though to myself, “he must be an atheist.” But then I found a similar article written by John Curran of the Associated Press:
Always a sacred day in the Catholic faith, Easter Sunday took on special significance this time at the church where hostage sea captain Richard Phillips normally worships.
In a 7:30 a.m. Mass at St. Thomas Church, the Rev. Charles Danielson urged his flock to pray for the safe return of the 53-year-old sea captain being held by Somali pirates for a fifth day.
Drawing a parallel between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and Phillips’ predicament, the church pastor told about 170 congregants that just as Christ triumphed over evil after being crucified, Phillips was attempting to triumph over the evil of his captors.
Wow! Human life truly is real life drama, just like in the movies; and what makes both so interesting are the dots in-between the dots that are so often brushed over or brushed out of existence, and for obvious reasons.
The scribes may have known scripture, but they had a hard time connecting names to faces. Elijah was John the Baptist and Emmanuel was Jesus of Nazareth. And what made their identities obvious was what was said about them in scripture:
“In those days, like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace. Their staff of bread he shattered, in his zeal he reduced them to straits…How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Whose glory is equal to yours? …You were destined, it is written, in time to come to put an end to wrath before the day of the Lord. To turn back the hearts of fathers towards their sons, and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob. Blessed is he who shall have seen you and who falls asleep in your friendship” (Sir. 48:1-4, 9-11).
Of course the revisionists and reductionists would love to make us think that God really had nothing to do with the successes and failures of the patriarchs and prophets: with Abraham, Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist and ultimately, Jesus of Nazareth; or that he had no role to play in the triumphs and defeats of the Jewish people. When they speak of Jesus, they explain Him away by saying that He was a good man, but just a man. Or that He was a great prophet, but just a prophet. Or that He was a great philosopher, but just a philosopher. Or that He was an amazing revolutionary, but just a revolutionary.
A lot could be said about John the Baptist: how he dressed, what he said, the food he ate, the sort of friends he surrounded himself with, the type of people he attracted and attacked, the friends and enemies he made. Yet if there were no mention of God or of his prayer life, his work and mission, his zeal and passion for souls, his demands for justice and respect for marriage, then the entire story would be bogus and down right dishonest.
St. John the Baptist. Pray for us! (177)
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