Elijah was a powerful preacher and prophet in Ancient Israel. Sirach tells us, “Like a fire, there appeared the prophet Elijah, whose words were like a flaming furnace. Their staff of bread he shattered, in his zeal he reduced them to straits; by the Lord’s word he shut up the heavens and three times brought down fire. How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wonderous deeds!” (NAB, SIR 48:1-4) Elijah truly was a great prophet whose prophecies were fulfilled by and through the very life of Jesus. This fulfillment is partly what gives us confidence in the divine Jesus as Christ, the Messiah, who came to save God’s people.
Jesus likens John the Baptist to the new Elijah. John was foretold by Elijah to be the “one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” (MT 3:3) In fact, it was the preaching of John which called the people of God to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (3:2) His fiery preaching would eventually cost him his life, but John knew his mission and persevered in faith. We owe a debt to John, who first made the Paschal connection regarding Jesus, whereupon seeing Jesus coming toward the Jordan river, John cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (JN 1:29)
Lord, give me a voice on fire for you, a voice that fearlessly proclaims your Word in the midst of this world wrought with so many trials and difficulties. May my life always point to you, your love, and your mercy, and may I persevere in the continual renewal and conversion of myself. Amen.