"Why do the scribes claim that Elijah must come first?" —Matthew 17:10
Elijah must come before Christ's Christmas coming. Before the first Christmas, he came in the person of John the Baptizer (Mt 17:12-13). Before this Christmas, Elijah comes in your spouse, child, parent, friend, a poor person, or even in a stranger. You can recognize Elijah by the work he does. No matter how he looks, he will "turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons," and vice versa (Sir 48:10).
Elijah is that person who is the catalyst for a series of events which promote reconciliation and forgiveness, especially in families. This change of heart is an absolute prerequisite for a true Christmas. If we bring our Christmas gift to the altar at Christmas Mass and then recall that someone has something against us, we must leave our Christmas gift at the altar and go to be reconciled (Mt 5:23-24). We need ministers of reconciliation (see 2 Cor 5:18) like Elijah to make Christmas possible, for there is no true Christmas without reconciliation.
Prayer: Father, by Your grace, I choose to forgive everyone who has ever hurt me.
Promise: "Elijah is indeed coming, and he will restore everything." —Mt 17:11
Praise: The epitaph of Pope St. Damasus I reads, "He, I believe, will make Damasus rise again."
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape Reconciliation on audio AV 1A-1 or video V-1A.)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Richard Walling, July 7, 2004
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 19, 2004