Saturday, December 15, Second Week in Advent
The Second Book of Kings describes Elijah, in his final days, talking with the prophet Elisha when a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Thus it was believed that he did not taste death.
Some 500 years later in the book of Malachi, God says, Lo, I will send you, Elijah, the prophet, before the day of the Lord comes. Jewish theologians took this to mean that Elijah would return before the Messiah came.
So the disciples ask: If Elijah hasnt returned, how could Jesus be the Messiah? Jesus gives the answer: John the Baptist is the Elijah figure prophesized by Malachi.
The Gospel writers do not give us a biography of Jesus, but answer the question: "Who is Jesus?
All four Gospels answer: He is the Messiah. He is the Son of God. He has come to begin the final preparation for the kingdom of God.
Picture Jesus saying to you (as he once said to the disciples) Who do you say that I am?
Give your answer not in the abstract, but to him.
Sunday, December 16, Third Week in Advent
She lived alone, as so many do. And she felt it especially at Christmas, as so many do.
Decorating her Christmas tree, she began to argue with herself, an argument shed had several times before in these days before Christmas. Why am I doing this? No one will see it, and I dont need it.
Then she heard herself say, You have to do this. Not so that others will see it, but to remind yourself that the hope is real not just words or a dream. Its real. Jesus really did come. And so you really have a tree, and you decorate it, and you buy real gifts, and you go to Midnight Mass, and you have a real Christmas dinner.
This is how you keep the hope alive and real.
In the three-year cycle of Sunday Scripture readings during Advent, the first reading always describes the words and/or actions of one of the prophets.