Thursday of the Second Week of Advent

Thursday of the Second Week of Advent
Isaiah 41:13-20  +  Matthew 11:11-15

“And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come.”

St. John the Baptist is a major figure of the early weeks of Advent.  On several of the weekdays in the week leading up to Christmas Day, the Church proclaims passages in which we hear of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.  The Church, through these passages from St. Luke’s Gospel account, wants us to compare the nativities of John and Jesus in order to understand the connection between the two.

Today’s Gospel Reading is set during the public ministry of Jesus, who declares that John the Baptist “is Elijah, the one who is to come”.  How are we to understand this declaration?  The last book of the Old Testament can help us.  In Malachi 3:23 the Lord of Hosts proclaims:  “Now I am sending to you / Elijah the prophet, / Before the day of the Lord comes, / the great and terrible day”.

During Advent we might well identify “the day of the Lord” with the Nativity of Jesus.  But we ought to remember that Jesus was born at Bethlehem in order to die at Calvary.  The day of Jesus’ death on Calvary is more properly “the day of the Lord”, for on that Good Friday the Lord Jesus took upon His shoulders the sins of all mankind.  That day of Good Friday is “the great and terrible day” of which the Lord speaks in Malachi, and for which St. John the Baptist means to prepare us.