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”…Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
In the year of my Confirmation, almost thirty years ago, we went with our Church youth group to a nursing home to sing Christmas Carols. I will never forget the odors in that place. It was terrible. We gathered all the elderly into one large room and I was forced to announce to all of them that we were here to sing Christmas songs. As I went over to turn off the large TV that was blaring in the room, an elderly gentleman, sitting in front of the TV said, “If you turn off that TV I will kill you!”
You cannot imagine how upset I was by his remark. If I was much more cold hearted I would have told that old man, “Listen buddy, who do you think you are? Try it and I’ll pull that plug off your respirator before you have a chance to lift your hand!”
Of course, I didn’t say anything. But I did tell our youth minister and he reminded me that we were not here for ourselves, but for the elderly. I replied, “But who does he think he is?” He replied, “Who do you say you are?”
This morning I spoke to a group of teenagers that will be volunteering as “Angels for a Day.” It is a beautiful program in which underprivileged children are given the time of their life! But the ultimate goal of the program is to help the volunteers be more like Christ. That is, to Care more about others; Hear (listen) well; Respect; be Inviting, Smile and give these kids a reason to Trust you.
You can remember these by the seven letters I capitalized: C.H.R.I.S.T.
That’s right! You read me correctly. The program’s ultimate goal is not really to give the poor Christmas gifts. Rather, the real goal of the program is to give the spiritually poor volunteers an opportunity to be more like Christ.
Before Christ can come, Elijah must come first. “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight his paths.” Before someone can believe in Christ, they must see Him in you!
Unfortunately, Advent is that time of year where very few us know what to do. It is not like Lent where we sacrifice something for forty days and forty nights. Advent is different. It is that time of year where we make straight the Lord’s path for others, including myself, to follow. It is that time of year when we make life easier for others!
Yes, we must be like John the Baptist and Elijah, inviting others to conversion. But ultimately, we must be like Christ, inviting others to His holiness and His home.
“Who do you say you are?” You say you are Christian. Advent is that time of year where the Lord invites you to prove it! Use Christ’s words in your speech. Use Christ’s experiences in your life! Be open to the Lord, make straight his paths. Live Advent in preparation of His second coming!