Matthew 17:9a, 10-13

December 10, 2022


Each one of us has our respective assumptions, inclinations and even prejudices. This does not mean, however, that we will always remain subjective and never ever become objective in any way. Humanly speaking, we can always strive to allow the better part of ourselves to prevail. How much more with the grace of God!

In our Gospel reading today, the Lord Jesus took note that although his contemporaries in Israel were looking forward with excitement to the return of Elijah the prophet as prophesied in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, yet they did not recognize him when he finally came in the person of St. John the Baptist. Well, who among us could blame them? St. John the Baptist did not claim that he was Elijah. Indeed, he did not, but — after being asked who he was – he clearly identified himself saying, “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, Make straight the way of the Lord.’” (John 1:23). He further said, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:26-27); “I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8)

Every word and every action of St. John the Baptist underlined that he was fulfilling the prophecy about Elijah. We may say that it is just a matter of doing a simple mathematical procedure: one plus one equals two. In real life, however, this requires a lot of humility, openness, prayer and alertness; in short, a lot of discernment. Time and again, just like the contemporaries of the Lord Jesus we fail miserably in this area.

The worst part is this: they looked forward with great faith to the coming of the promised Saviour, but most of them failed to recognize him when he finally came among them: “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.” (John 1:11). They were expecting a politically and militarily powerful Messiah. But the Lord Jesus came as “the suffering servant of Yahweh.” Although this was in fact prophesied (cf. Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12), yet this proved too much and very unacceptable to them. Truth to tell, many times we are just like them. Our minds are not broad enough, our hearts are not big enough, and our prayers are not discerning enough. We are also faced with the temptation to play God – “iyun pong pangungunahan natin ang Diyos.” After all these years, however, we should know better – as we say, “Let go and let God.” Let us allow the living God to surprise us.

We are at the end of the second week of Advent 2022. Let us pray that we may learn how to recognize and appreciate more the presence of God in our lives, not only in good times but also in bad times, not only when our expectations are satisfied, but when we are disappointed as well. In the ups and downs of life may we still be able to confidently and joyfully exclaim, “It is the Lord.” (John 21:7)

Reflection Guide

Check if the Jesus you are waiting is the real one, and not the one that comes from your assumptions.
Try recalling those moments when you have rejected the real Jesus because he did not approximate your expectations.