As they were coming down from the mountain,
the disciples asked Jesus, Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision* to anyone until the
Son of Man has been raised from the dead.
Then the disciples asked him,
“Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;
but I tell you that Elijah has already come,
and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased.
So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.”
Then the disciples understood
that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
(Matthew 17:9, 10-13)
17:9 raised from the dead Jesus mentions His forthcoming resurrection for the second time (see Matt 16:21). Son of Man Jesus uses this self-designation more than any other; it comes from the OT book of Daniel. This title occurs 30 times in the Gospel of Matthew and often stresses the exaltation of Jesus.
17:10 Elijah must come first Malachi had prophesied that Elijah would come before the Messiah (Mal 4:5). The prophet Malachi had foretold the coming of a messenger—Elijah—who would prepare the way of the Messiah (Mal 3:1; 4:5); consequently, some Jews expected the return of Elijah himself (e.g., John 1:25). However, Jesus explains here that Malachi’s prophecy was fulfilled by John the Baptist, who ministered in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17; compare Matt 16:14).
17:11 Elijah will indeed come In vv. 11–12, Jesus could be referring to two Elijah-figures—one in the future and one in the past—or He might be restating the prophecy of Mal 4:5 and then speaking about its fulfillment in John the Baptist.
17:12 did to him whatever they pleased Refers to John the Baptist’s beheading (14:6–11).
Friends, today’s Gospel passage identifies the appearance of John the Baptist with the expected return of the prophet Elijah. John, the herald of Christ, appears in the desert. Here he stands for all of us in the desert of sin, the lifeless place. It is as though John purposely went there to remind us of our need for grace.
What is he proclaiming? A baptism of repentance. This is the great message. Turn your life over to a higher power. People are coming to him from all sides, because in our heart of hearts we all resonate with this message.
So often in the Old Testament, the prophets are asked to act out some quality of the people, perhaps something they were unable or unwilling to see. Well, this tradition continues here: John acts out for the people their helplessness and neediness before the Lord. But then, like Isaiah, he refuses to leave it at that. He announces that one is coming, one who will baptize in the Holy Spirit.
– Bishop Robert Barron
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.