As they were coming down the mountainside, the disciples then asked Jesus, «Why do the teachers of the Law say that Elijah must come first?». And Jesus answered, «So it is: first comes Elijah to set everything as it has to be. But I tell you, Elijah has already come and they did not recognize him, but treated him as they pleased. And they will also make the Son of Man suffer». Then the disciples understood that Jesus was referring to John the Baptist.
God has His own way of dealing with us. Sadly, in our limitedness, we are not able to understand the divine mysteries. Understanding our limits, God, in His generosity, prepare us, through the prophets and signs, so that we may be ready to welcome these divine elements in us, and make them as part of ours.
John the Baptist was sent, so that the way for the Lord be prepared. Humanity has decided the other way, of making him to disappear, just by the pleasure of human words and promises, made his head as gift for a dancer. This is part of every Christian life and God gives us the strength to face such situation, in faith and courage. Sometime, we have this joy of suffering for our faith.
While preparing for the great event of the Incarnation, let us not repeat the same mistake of the contemporaries of Jesus. Let us pray to God the humility to seek the divine grace, the faithfulness to the commandment of love and charity, and be watchful when God gives us the signs.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers:
John fulfills Elijah's prophetic ministry,
by John Chrysostom, 547-407 A.D.
"They did not know this from the Scriptures, but the scribes used to tell them, and this saying was reported among the ignorant crowd, as also about Christ. Therefore the Samaritan woman also said, 'The Messiah is coming; when he comes, he will show us all things' (John 4:25). And they themselves asked John, 'Are you Elijah or the prophet?' (John 1:21). For this opinion was strong, as I said, both the one about Christ and the one about Elijah, but they did not interpret it as it should have been. For the Scriptures speak of two comings of Christ, both this one that has taken place and the future one. Paul spoke of these when he said, 'For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright and godly lives in this world' (Titus 2:11-12).
"Behold the first advent, and listen to how he declares the coming advent: 'Awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ' (Titus 2:13). The prophets also mention both advents; of the one that is second they say that Elijah will be the forerunner; John was forerunner of the first, John whom Christ also called by the name Elijah, not because he was Elijah but because he was fulfilling Elijah's ministry. For just as Elijah will be the forerunner of the second advent, so John was of the first. But the scribes, confusing these things and perverting the people, mentioned that coming alone, the second one, to the people, and said, 'If this is the Christ, Elijah ought to have come first.' That is why the disciples also say, 'Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?'" (excerpt from THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 57.1)