The Jewish people anticipated the return of Elijah, one of their greatest prophets. Elijah, whose name means “My God is Yahweh,” defended Yahweh against those who worshipped the idol Baal, raised the dead, brought fire down from the sky, and was taken up in a whirlwind of fire. The Jewish people believed that Elijah would return to earth and “put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD.”

During the season of Advent we wait for and anticipate the coming again of Christ into the world on Christmas day. We expect that Christ will do miraculous things and set the world on fire with his love. We wait for Jesus to end all hate, war, and poverty. We long for Jesus to give us “good tidings for you and your kin.”

As I read from the Book of Sirach today, I wondered if perhaps I am being invited to be like the prophet Elijah. Am I being asked to be a fire in the world and use my words as a flaming furnace to destroy all hatred and fear? Am I being encouraged to bring peace and joy to the people I live with or meet by doing what is right and just? Am I expected to be compassionate to all I deal with and help to turn back the hearts of parents toward their sons and daughters?

Maybe Jesus is hoping that I will actively work for the Kingdom of heaven as I wait for his coming again into the world on Christmas day.

—Brother John Moriconi, S.J., a noted mandolinist, provincial’s secretary for the Chicago-Detroit Jesuit Province.