The text of today is immediately after the Transfiguration and concerns the question that the disciples ask about the coming of Elijah. This question is extremely important because it concerns the authenticity of the Messiah. There are three views regarding the “WHY” of the disciples’ question. The first is: If the scribes say that Elijah must come before the Messiah comes, and if Elijah has not yet come, then can Jesus be the Messiah? The second view is that the disciples’ question was prompted by their assumption that Elijah’s appearance at the Transfiguration was itself his coming again, as prophesied by the prophet Malachi, and so the question of the disciples’ is: Why did Jesus (if he is the Messiah) appear before Elijah did, when the scribes say the order should be reversed. The third view is that Elijah was expected to come again and restore justice and teach people the meaning of true worship. If this is so, then how could the Messiah, who would come after this restoration by Elijah, be killed in the violent manner that Jesus had predicted?
The third view seems to fit the context best, since Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ question confirms this. Elijah has indeed returned and he has returned in the person of John the Baptist. His attempt to restore all things was rejected by the majority. Indeed, he was killed violently. The Messiah, who has come in Jesus, (and who comes after John) will thus suffer the same fate. It is therefore not surprising that the Messiah will be treated shamefully, rejected by the people, and killed violently. Though Jesus had not explicitly identified John the Baptist with Elijah, the disciples understood that he was speaking of John the Baptist when he spoke of Elijah having come.
Preconceived notions that we may have prevent us from seeing things as they are. We often see things, not as they are, but as we are. This is why we miss out on so much that life has to offer. What is required, in order to be able to see, is an openness and receptivity which are gifts that God gives us, if we but ask. This openness and receptivity allows us a new vision, a new insight, and a new way of seeing.