I used to think that the people who lived two thousand years ago in the land we called holy had a great advantage. They could hear Jesus speak and witness the miracles he worked.
Perhaps (I wondered) this is the kind of here-and-now evidence that my frail little faith needs?
However the ministry of Jesus didn’t seem that convincing for people like me.
Certainly many were impressed by his wisdom and startled by his miracles, for a while, until the next entertainer came to town. Three years of full time ministry seemed to, when it came down to the end, win over perhaps a dozen disciples, a pretty weak lot including the denier, the betrayer, and the others who headed for the hills at the first hint of trouble.
One thousand years before Christ the prophet the Elijah (in today’s first reading) “arose like a fire, his word flaring like a torch”. He brought down fire, as one among many spectacular signs, and was “taken up to heaven in a chariot with fiery horses” – all to “to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children”. Those who witnessed this were delighted, impressed and Elijah was the talk of the nation.
But Jesus reminds the people of his own day “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.” (Today’s Gospel reading).
No doubt after a big day out watching fiery chariots head for heaven, (Elijah) or seeing the dead restored to health or returned to life (Jesus) the multitudes went back home where they were quickly absorbed with cooking dinner, getting the kids to do their homework and off to bed. Then an hour or two awake in the night worried about health or finances, relationships and work.
Our problem is that our fog which may have lifted for a moment in a day, soon returns and settles as our default setting, and we forget to savour the remarkable things that we have seen and heard in the hours just past.
Take a moment now to invite Jesus to remind you of a significant moment of encounter with him in the last day or two. Don’t try to think of one. Simply invite him to reveal to you what he wants you to remember, perhaps a high-point or a challenge, a break-through moment, or an opportunity for you to invite him to reveal himself.
And now expect to see and hear Jesus in these moments in your own life. When we experience this present encounter we become grateful that we are living here and now and not then and there.
What do you think?
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