A story is told of a little boy who goes to his father crying and his father wanted to know why he was crying. He told his father that he was playing ‘hide and seek’ with his friend and he hid himself so much that his friend could not find him. After a long attempt to find him, his friend gave up the search and went home. He had expected his friend to continue searching until he found him. Many of us can be like the friend of this little boy. We seek for God and because it is difficult to find Him we give up the search and settle for idols. However, God did not deliberately make it difficult for us to find him. First He is completely other tto us and secondly, the more we sin, the harder it gets. Thirdly, because our sins have made us blind, even when God is standing right before us, we become unable to recognise Him.

In the first reading, we are told of all the wonderful things Elijah did and all the miracles that accompanied him. But why did many of the people of his time not believe him? He did not fit the idea and expectation in their minds. Miracles happen in our lives everyday, but we do not recognise them, because they do not fit our idea of miracle. This is why we must be careful with our expectations. Many of us expect that if the Holy Spirit is at work, then people must be falling down as a result. Many of us expect that if our prayer is genuine, then it must make us feel good all the time. Many of us believe that wherever some extraordinary events are taking place, then it must be the Spirit of God. With all these expectations, great things can be happening before our eyes and because that is not what we are looking for, we will not recognise it.

Jesus in the Gospel is telling us that Elijah had already returned in the person of John the Baptist. By the way, this does not mean reincarnation. John the Baptist is not Elijah, but he is another Elijah in the same way we can say that a very intelligent child is another Thomas Aquinas. The Jews are waiting for another Elijah, who came in the person of John. But because John did not fit their expectation, they are unable to recognise him. It  is good not to give up the search, but it is also good to be open minded. If we are not open minded, then whatever we find will be the image in our minds.

The same is to happen to Jesus. The people exected a messiah. The messiah did come in the person of Jesus Christ, but they rejected Him and crucified Him. Even when He rose from the dead, many of them still explained it away. It is easy for us to blame them and wonder what is wrong with them, while the same thing is busy happening to us. When it comes to the spiritual life, we often seek what is dramatic and drastic, and we miss the God who comes to us in the simple things and people. We are waiting for the coming of Christ, but let us not fail to see Him present in the Eucharist. Let us not fail to recognise Him in the person of the priest at every liturgical celebration. Let us not fail to recognise Him in every gathered assembly. Let us not fail to recognise Him in the poor and most abandoned. Let us not fail to recognise Him in the scriptures.

His coming can be so different from what we expect that we may even find ourselves fighting against Him without knowing it. A man once went to visit a cardinal. When he got to the cardinal’s house, he saw a man cutting the flowers and he asked if he could see the cardinal and the man said ‘wait let me call him’, when the cardinal came, all dressed in his cassock, he realised it was the same man who was cutting the flowers. The big problem is, he was not as respectful to him as a gardener as he would now be to him as a cardinal.

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