The Book of Malachi is interesting because of its position as the last book of the Old Testament. The Old Testament books are not presented in chronological order, (except the texts within the Historical Books.) The four sections are presented like this: the Pentateuch (Law), the Historical Books, the Wisdom books (historically written last, closest to the time of Christ), and the Prophetic Books with Malachi at the end of that section. One would expect the books written closest to the time of Jesus to be found at the end of the Old Testament, but the Prophets were placed last because of the final words of Malachi’s message: the forerunner is coming to prepare the way of the Lord, the Messiah. Therefore when we ‘turn the page’ we are at the New Testament, starting with the Gospel of Matthew which begins with the genealogy of “Jesus the Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matt 1:1) Hence, because Malachi began his book with a reminder of God’s love and ended it with the promise of the coming Messiah, it directly connects us to the Good News of the culmination of that love, namely Jesus Christ.
For the Book of Malachi to be meaningful, particularly at this time of year, we should spend time in reflection and in examination of our conscience in order to look at how we are preparing our own path for the coming of Christ at the end of our life and for His triumphal return at the end of time. We are invited to let the words “I love you” spoken by the Lord be the ones which echo in our hearts and minds as we enter into each new day, desiring to see and hear the evidence of His love in whatever circumstances we might presently be experiencing. Therefore, in the spirit of Malachi, we might want to examine how we live our baptismal covenant with God with questions such as these:
- How am I living as priest, prophet, and king?
- How am I utilizing the gifts of faith, hope, and love?
- How am I preparing the way for others by “going forth to baptize the nations?” (paraphrase of Matthew 28:19-20)
- How am I living as a member of the Body of Christ?
- How am I seeking God on a daily basis, in order to see and hear more clearly?’
May the end of the liturgical year be rich with God’s graces of mercy and love! May we be inspired to live prophetically like Malachi: unafraid to speak and act as a disciple of Jesus Christ! May we be God’s messenger as one who lives authentically according to our faith! May our lives convey the love and mercy of Jesus to everyone we meet, courageously reaching out to people who are especially unlike ourselves! May we appreciate the opportunity to see that no day is ordinary if it is directed toward God! And may we prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ again in glory! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
Note: Next post will be December 3.
1. I took this photo in the town of Ticonderoga, NY. I chose to use it for the opening image because it stood out. This tree did not seem ordinary, but rather it was ablaze with beauty. Many people, like me, do not get to see beautiful autumn colors very often, and so this truly was a gift. But for those who do see colors often, it is important not to take the gift for granted.
2. I took this photo in Lausanne, Switzerland. This statue is on the facade of the Lausanne Cathedral in the Old City section. Of course, it is Malachi the prophet. That he seems to be peeking out almost surreptitiously spoke to me as a symbol of his desire for anonymity. He holds the text of his writings.
3. This is another of my photos. It is the top of Lower Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca, NY. I chose the top of the falls because of the reference to "slip-sliding" in the wrong direction by the Jewish people in the 5th century BC. If one leaves the path at the top of a waterfall, one is in danger! (To be clear, I was on the path when I took this photo!)
4. This is the work of Fr. William Hart McNichols called Retablo de San Jose Obrero. I chose it because Jesus is in a pose of total vulnerability and loving trust, asleep in the arms of St. Joseph. There is so much love in this image! For a full explanation of this work, and also to understand what a retablo is, go to the artist's site: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/retablo-de-san-jose-obrero-301-william-hart-mcnichols.html
While you are there you can order a copy of it or peruse the site for any other icons and images you like which can be purchased in many mediums. It is getting to be the holiday season and you might like to order some cards or a gift. (Again, I get nothing from my endorsement of Fr. Bill's work except the joy of sharing!)
5. This may seem like an odd choice: it is a painting by Henri Matisse called O Dalisque a la Culotte Rouge. (1925). I chose it, however, because the reclining woman can be viewed as being in prayerful reflection, perhaps doing an examination of conscience. But I also chose it because of something Matisse once said: "There are always flowers for those who want to see them." There are flowers throughout this painting, on the table behind the woman, and in the wallpaper. What Matisse said is exactly the point of this post: If we learn to see and hear differently, we will see God's presence in our midst.
6. This is an icon called St. John the Forerunner Also the Baptist, an icon from the work of Fr. William Hart McNichols. It seemed fitting to end with John the Forerunner since Malachi ends his writing with the prophecy of his coming. You can find it at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/st-john-the-forerunner-also-the-baptist-082-william-hart-mcnichols.html
NOTE: In compliance with GDPR rules, I wish to make it clear that I do not gather any information on any of my readers at any time.