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"Lo, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, before the day of the Lord comes." —Malachi 3:23
Before Jesus came two-thousand years ago, Elijah came in the person of John the Baptist (Mt 17:12-13). Before Jesus comes at the end of the world, Elijah or someone like him will come first (Mal 3:23). Before Christ's coming this Christmas, Elijah will come "to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Mal 3:24).
In the new covenant, fathers and children are not only biological but also spiritual. Fathers are those who have led us to new birth in Christ (see 1 Cor 4:14-15; Phlm 10) and those who have helped us grow in discipleship (see 1 Tm 1:2; 2 Tm 1:2; 1 Pt 5:13). Thus, if we share our faith, we are probably parents of many spiritual children. Also, if we have lived our new life in Christian community, we probably have several spiritual parents.
Many of our spiritual children and parents disappoint us and may even reject us, and, of course, we may disappoint and reject them. In pain, we are tempted to turn our hearts away in unforgiveness and bitterness. However, through Elijah the Lord commands and graces us to forgive all sins committed against us and to love our spiritual children unconditionally. This is the meaning of Christmas. Jesus forgave those who did not accept Him. "Any who did accept Him He empowered to become children of God" (Jn 1:12). Turn your heart to love your children.
Prayer: Father, I accept Your grace to do the divine and humanly impossible. I decide to forgive all my spiritual children for all sins against me. Come, Lord Jesus!
Promise: "All who heard stored these things up in their hearts, saying, 'What will this child be?' and, 'Was not the hand of the Lord upon him?' " —Lk 1:66
Praise: "O Emmanuel, Desire of the nations, come and set us free."
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, July 15, 2000
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 17, 2000