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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 17, 10-13

And the disciples put this question to him, 'Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?'

He replied, 'Elijah is indeed coming, and he will set everything right again;

however, I tell you that Elijah has come already and they did not recognise him but treated him as they pleased; and the Son of man will suffer similarly at their hands.'

Then the disciples understood that he was speaking of John the Baptist.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Gospel passage narrates the brief dialogue that took place between Jesus and the disciples while they walked down Mount Tabor after the transfiguration. Their conversation focused on one of the three men who appeared in the vision: the prophet Elijah. While the disciples were more and more convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the scribes continue to support the belief that before the Messiah, Elijah would come. Indeed, it is written in the book of Malachi “Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse” (Mal 4:5-6). Jesus confirms this prophesy to his disciples saying that Elijah has already come. Not only that, but Elijah’s fate - “[they] did to him whatever they pleased” - foresees that of the Son of Man. People did not recognize him; instead, and even more terribly, they refused him. The disciples understand that Jesus is talking about John the Baptist. They do not ask him any more questions because they understand more and more clearly that the Master who stands before them is the Messiah. This Gospel passage suggests that we all need someone who will prepare for us the way to the coming of the Lord; that there should be a voice, which cries out in the desert of this world and that of our hearts to say that there is someone who loves us. Often, our egocentrism dulls our eyes and heart. It impedes us from opening our hearts and waiting for the Lord who comes to save us. We continually need a prophet - an Elijah, a brother or a sister - who speak to our ears and touch our heart so that we can welcome the Lord. Elijah is the Word of the Lord preached; he is the prophecy that continues to speak to us, even today. His word, as the book of Sirach writes, is similar to a fire: “his word burns like a torch.” Elijah’s kidnapping into heaven by a chariot of fire signifies that God’s prophecy never dies, but rather continues on today through the many witnesses who, by their word and example, continue to preach the urgencies of the love of God and of our brothers and sisters. We are all asked not to close our eyes, but rather to see the “signs of God;” not to close our ears, but rather to hear the Gospel; not to close our hearts, but rather to open them to the Lord who comes to be born in our midst.

Sunday Vigil