Advent reflection – Day 14

Second Saturday of Advent

Recognising the signs

The readings today speak of the witness and signs of Elijah and John the Baptist. Despite all their efforts, they were not recognised - their message was not taken to heart.burning heart 3

Elijah’s whole prophetic work was to bring the Lord’s fire to the earth, to prepare the hearts of the people to accept God and to help the people to respond with passionate fire.

John the Baptist’s mission, preparing the way for the coming of Jesus Christ by preaching a baptism of repentance and renewal, was also driven by burning desire. He began his public ministry announcing, “I have come to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it were already kindled!”

Advent is a time in which we are called to ponder the fire of God’s love and to examine whether we meet that fiery love with passionate love in return.
In his apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” (Evangelii Gaudium), Pope Francis says, to share our faith we must do it with “words of fire” flowing from “hearts on fire” (EG, 142, 144).

In today’s Gospel reading the disciples had questions about the expectant return of Elijah – Jesus answered them “but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.”
John the Baptist filled the role of Elijah, preparing the way for the coming of Christ. But Jesus points out that, like John the Baptist, he also will not be recognised, he too will suffer.

They did not recognise him….

Recognising the voice of the prophets, the face of Jesus and the love of God is not always easy. It is our human tendency to look away from someone who is speaking to us when their message is uncomfortable, embarrassing or challenging. There is something about being “face to face” that demands an intimacy that is required for genuine communication, genuine communion. Sometimes that can be our experience of relationship with God, we can flee the face of God in many ways and for many reasons – turning away from the loving gaze of God.

How can we recognise him?

It is all about awareness, being alert to the signs, recognising the creative and subtle ways in which the Lord speaks to us each day through the encounters and situations of life and then, finding ways in which we respond with passionate love.
Being aware and being alert we look for the Saviour in the poor, the stranger, the sick, in our families, in our friends, in our communities and in ourselves.


The following poem by W. H. Smaw, questions our awareness. Do we recognise him?

        I am. I was. I will be.
        I am not coming soon I am here.

        I was born on a cold night in a cold place
        Unnoticed, unheralded by cold people
        Who turned my mother away.
        On that night were you listening?
        On that night the "least of your brothers" was me.
        Now do you see, do you hear and do you care?
        I am not coming soon I am here.
        In your life do you see me
        In the ragged men and women
        Who search the cold street
        Looking for my reflection in your heart?
        Do you hear my voice in
        Their muttered plea or in their tear?
        I am not coming soon I am here.
        Do you hear me when your friend turns to you
        To ask forgiveness and trust?
        Do I not forgive you always?
        Do I not give you a merciful ear?
        I am not coming soon I am here.
        In this season I was born unto you
        Fulfilling the promise of God’s care.
        Look for me, listen to me…
        I am not coming soon I am here.

        Our prayer for today is that of the psalm:

“Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.”

waiting 13

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