The Gospel Today
Memorial of St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr
Matthew 17:10 – 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. Eric Terrel):
Standing for the truth sounds very heroic. As a matter of fact, it is noble and good. However, it also invites tension especially when doing so entails condemning the sinful and corrupt ways of another person. We heard some stories of journalists being murdered by the people whom they criticized. They paid with their dear lives as they reported in the name of the truthful and fair journalism.
Prior to the time of Jesus, there was a great prophet of the Lord named Elijah. As a prophet, he proclaimed the truth about the existence, the power and the primacy of God over Baal and his prophets in a contest of calling on of fire from their respective Divine master that would eventually consume the offering. (1 Kings 18:1-46) At the end of his prophetic mission, he was taken up into heaven by a fiery chariot led by flaming horses (2 Kings 2:9-12). Many Jewish people, especially the Scribes, believed that Elijah will come again to earth for the mission of reconciliation before the day of the Lord’s coming. Actually, a prophet came into the midst of the Jews. But his name was not Elijah. Rather, he was known as St. John the Baptist and his mission was to proclaim the coming of the Lord with its call for repentance of all people from their sinful ways. Like Elijah, St. John the Baptist was faithful in his mission of proclaiming the message of God. Like Elijah who was persecuted by Jezreel, St. John the Baptist was persecuted by Herodias when the prophet spoke against the queen’s immoral union with Herod when in fact Herodias was already married to Philip who was Herod’s brother. (Matthew 14:3-11) Like the prophets before Him, Jesus Christ proclaimed about the coming of God’s Kingdom. He also proclaimed about His close relationship with God whom He called ABBA meaning ‘Father’. As Christ spoke about the truth about God and Himself, His act as the Son of Man led the other Jews, notably the scribes and Pharisees, to call Him as a “blasphemer” because they cannot accept that this carpenter’s son from Nazareth was the Son of God. Moreover, He drew their anger even more when He spoke against their hypocritical acts and superficial practices. Like Elijah and John the Baptizer, Jesus Christ was also persecuted by the people He spoke against to. Like John, Jesus also suffered from His decision to bear witness to the truth by the sacrifice of His life. As Christ once said, “the truth will make you free” (John 8:32), He lived and died for the truth. He lived and died as a free man. Eventually, God the Father affirmed Christ’s life that was oriented towards what is true, free and good as Christ was raised up from the dead. His resurrection served as a definite seal to the truth that Jesus Christ is God. Moreover, that truth and goodness can never be suppressed and defeated by all forms of evil.
We, Christians, received the gift of faith through the Sacrament of Baptism for a good and noble purpose. That purpose is to live according to our very identity as beloved children of God created in His image and likeness. We are called to live following the example set by Christ who is our Lord and brother. It is not just an idea that we should think about but it is a challenge that we ought to embrace with full acceptance of its inherent difficulty. Actually, it is not easy to bear witness to the truth in a world that highlights beauty, pleasure and comfort even if it meant concealing and denying the true reality. Can we stand for the truth in the workplace and in public service even if it entails confronting a greater majority who choose to manipulate people, things and scenarios just for the sake of self advancement and self preservation? Often times, those who stand for the truth would end up suffering greatly. Nevertheless, they can be assured of the gift of peace and freedom that only our faithful Lord can give. Never mind if they drew the wrath of men, what matters is the truth that they stood, lived and died for God who will always stand, live and die for them.