Scripture Focus: Mark 9.9-13
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant. 
11 And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” 
12 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.” 

Reflection: Elijah Must Come First
By John Tillman

At the transfiguration, Jesus, Peter, James, and John are joined by Moses and Elijah. These prophets experienced God’s glory on mountains in the past. Now they experienced God’s glory in Jesus.

After the transfiguration there is a discussion about John the Baptizer and the role of “Elijah” as the disciples walk back down the mountain with Jesus.

For Elijah, the transfiguration “mountain top moment” follows his past experiences of a mountain of triumph and a mountain of despair.

On his mountain of despair a storm, earthquake, and fire passed. Then Elijah heard the whispering voice of God and emerged from hiding, covering his face. On the mountain of transfiguration, Elijah, face uncovered, speaks with Jesus, who commands storms, shakes the Earth, and baptizes his followers with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Jesus says that Elijah “comes” and “has come.” John the Baptizer was the Elijah of his day, preparing the way for Jesus. John, like Elijah, had ups and downs. In one passage he proclaimed Jesus the Lamb of God and in another questioned if he should be looking for someone else.

In my life, I often waver between cynicism and hope. One week, I despair at anything getting done or getting better. Then, the next week, I throw myself into work and celebrate even minor improvements.

One day, considering the state of the world and the Church, I’m ready for Christ to come, burn it all down, and start over. On another day, I’m praying for time as I happily tilt at windmills with the idealistic energy of Don Quixote and threaten giants with the bright hope of young David, swinging a stone.

Despair is natural if change relies on us, but it doesn’t. Change relies on us relying on God. For change to occur, Elijah must come first. 

Come down the mountain and be Elijah. Stand in the wilderness and be John the Baptizer.

Be a voice crying in the wilderness. Prepare the way for one greater than ourselves. Call our age to repentance. Challenge the false prophets and point out their failure. Turn the hearts of children to parents and parents to children. Set the axe to the roots of hypocrisy.  Set in motion the restoration of all things.

We all have mountains of victory and despair in our past and present, but a mountain of transfiguration rises in our future.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus said: “Now the hour had come for the Son of man to be glorified. In all truth I tell you, unless a wheat grain falls on earth and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.” — John 12.23-24

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Mark 9  (Listen 6:16)

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