The Gospel Today
Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Matthew 17:9A, 10-13
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 but did to him whatever they pleased.
So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.”
Then the disciples understood
that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
Reflection (Sem. Enrico Terrel):
In the Gospel, the disciples asked Jesus, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” What led the disciples to ask Jesus a question about Elijah was the fact that they have just returned from Mount Tabor where they experienced the transfiguration of Jesus where Christ encountered Moses and Elijah and heard God the Father’s confirmation of Jesus as His beloved Son. Meanwhile, the scribes were thinking that the prophet Elijah, who was taken up to heaven by flaming chariots, would return to earth as foretold in the Old Testament specifically in the Book of Malachi. However, many Jews were wrong to think that Elijah would really return. The disciples must have believed the same thing too. It was a grace that they have Jesus who enlightened them about the fulfilment of the prophecy in the person of St. John the Baptist. St. John the Baptist was the one responsible for preparing the Israelites for the coming of the Messiah. He accomplished this by proclaiming repentance to the people and baptizing those who heeded his message. Furthermore, he challenged Herod Antipas’ adulterous affair with Herodias, who was the wife of Philip, the former’s brother. Because of this, John the Baptist was put into prison and later executed. Christ would go on to say that what John had experienced, He would also have go through it as He was persecuted and put to death by the scribes and Pharisees.
As a people looking for change in this greatly afflicted world, we easily gravitate towards a great person who offers us hope through his achievements or through his plans that advance prosperity and progress. But why would we still seek for exemplary persons around us when Jesus Christ has already come a long time ago and still continues to be with us in every Eucharistic celebration? His life that was centered on God’s love manifested by His transformative teaching and healing works revealed to us that we ought to be persons for others. By the ultimate sacrifice of His life on the cross, He taught us the greatest love that the world has ever known. Does our seeking of other examples reflect our refusal or inability to imitate Christ who will not give us an example that we cannot follow?