June 19, 2008 – Malachi – My MessengerThe name of book of the prophet Malachi is derived from the Hebrew word for “My Messenger” and according to notes in the NAB, the writer likely wished to remain anonymous as he was writing in a reproaching manner to the priests and rulers of the people who had just returned from their Babylonian captivity. From the notes: The historical value of the prophecy is considerable in that it gives us a picture of life in the Jewish community returned from Babylon, between the period of Haggai and the reform measures of Ezra and Nehemiah. It is likely that the author’s trenchant criticism of abuses and religious indifference in the community prepared the way for these necessary reforms. (Page 1170)
While reading these verses I am thinking of how there is always a “re-entry period” between the moment we realize that we must apologize for a deed done or left undone . . . and the time we actually attempt to repair the wrong we have done. We need a bit of a buffer zone to transit from an attitude of arrogance about our need to amend . . . and our attitude of humility about our need to ask forgiveness. And there is often more time needed as we move from asking forgiveness . . . to accepting the fact that we are (or in some cases are not) forgiven.
When we say “I am sorry” and wait for a response, time can stand still. If the response is a rejection, we must move on and then return to try another day. If the response is positive, there is so often a pregnant moment as we gather ourselves to move on in newness.
Reading Malachi and his message, we see images of John the Baptist and Jesus, the new Kingdom, the Eucharist – where Christ is always found. Reading Malachi causes me to stop to think about the beauty of God’s Message. We are created. We are well-loved. When we stray – as we always do – we are welcomed home the moment that we petition for forgiveness. Even if our fellow travelers cannot forgive, God does. And this is the message delivered by Malachi. Reforms must be made, and when they are, the New Message of the New Promise is this . . . Christ Jesus and his life of Service and Justice . . . redemption . . . salvation.
Perhaps this is why the Book of Malachi is the last we read before we turn to The New Testament. We have been told all that we need to know about building kingdom, about intimate and honest union. All that is left . . . is for us to act.