Saturday in the Second Week of Advent

Scripture Readings: Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11; Mt 17:9a, 10-13  

The Prophet Malachi writes, “Behold, I will send the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.” 

To this day at Passover meals, pious Jewish families may leave an outside door open to welcome the prophet Elijah, and say this prayer: “May he come to us soon, bringing the Messiah.”   Then the abba, the father, pours an extra cup of wine and sets it aside for the prophet, and he also provides an empty chair for him at their table.   

But after World War II the empty chair took on new meaning. It reminded families of the six million Jews who could not be present because they had perished in the Holocaust, and this intensified their anguish and their prayers for the return of Elijah to restore all things, to prepare their hearts for the Messiah.     

Today another holocaust is taking place.  Many children are perishing either by abortion or by a diminishment of faith.  We see empty choir stalls in our monasteries, empty pews in our Churches, and empty desks in our schools.  May we take heart from the example of our Jewish brothers and sisters to intensify our prayers for Christ to come and fill these empty places with fervent members of his Body, like those we see in the Guest section of our Church every day.