Day 281: Good and Evil

Nehemiah 13:1-3 In keeping with the Law, the Ammonites and Moabites were excluded from the Temple because of their hostility against Israel, exemplified by Balaam’s story. (CCC 2114)

Ch 13:4-31 Nehemiah went back to Persia but returned to Jerusalem in haste upon learning that the Law was not being kept: Ammonites were in the Temple, Jews were marrying pagans, the Sabbath rest was not being observed, and the Temple funds were being pilfered. Nehemiah took action and did his best to restore proper order, turning to God in prayer all the while. His success may have been limited, as it was later for Ezra, who went through the process of enforcing divorces for all of the Jews in mixed marriages. (CCC 348, 2168, 2171, 2189)

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

The Book of Malachi

Author and Date:


Main Themes:

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Malachi 1-4 This book is the last of the twelve minor prophetic books of the Old Testament. Little is known about the life of Malachi. It is possible that this book is a collection of prophecies attributed to him since Malachi is a Hebrew word that means “my messenger.” The prophecies contained in this book include some of the clearest articulations in Scripture regarding the nature and mission of the coming Messiah; the rest of these prophecies manifest God’s desire to have his people respond to his loving overtures toward them.

Ch 1:2-5 God loved Israel, the descendants of Jacob, more than the Edomites, the descendants of Esau. To “hate” Esau in this context does not mean necessarily to have contempt but rather to prefer Jacob over Esau. Since the Edomites had been antagonistic toward Israel, they suffered severe defeats and hardships as punishment.

Ch 1:11 The mass is a perfect Sacrifice (or offering) since it makes present sacramentally the one Sacrifice of Christ. Prayers, sacrifices, and deeds of charity become part of this perfect Sacrifice when united to the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Christ’s true Body and Blood are consecrated at the altar as a memorial of his Passion and Resurrection. Therefore, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass surpasses all of the Old Testament ritual sacrifices, which had to be repeated continuously and could never accomplish true union with God. (CCC 1330, 1350, 2643)

Ch 2:1-9 Malachi’s prophecy warned priests who were not faithful to God’s Law and by their poor example led the people into sin.

Ch 2:6 In his steadfast love, God instructs directly every individual through his inspired Word. God’s teaching culminated with the Incarnation of the Son of God (cf. Jn 18:37). (CCC 217)

Ch 2:7-9 The priests of the Old Testament served as mediators between God and his people for the purpose of offering sacrifice and instruction on the Word of God. However, these sacrifices were never effective in making reparation for sin and reconciling people to God. The perfect Sacrifice of salvation occurred through Christ’s Passion and Death on the Cross. (CCC 1540)

Ch 2:10-17 Malachi opposed marriage between a Jew and a pagan since the believing spouse could be led easily into idolatry. In the spirit of God’s original plan for marriage, he opposed divorce. His prophecy served as a preparation for the New Covenant in which the marriage is indissoluble. (CCC 1611, 2384-2386)

Ch 2:10 Various religions regard their deity as “Father” for a variety of reasons. For Israel, God is Father since, in addition to being the Creator of the world, he made his covenant with Israel, whom he regarded as “his first-born son” (Ex 4:22). Christians call God “Our Father” because, through the grace of Baptism, we have become adopted sons and daughters of God and heirs to everlasting life. This elevation to the level of adopted children of God demonstrates God’s special love toward all those redeemed in Christ. (CCC 178, 238-240, 270, 2780, 2798)

Ch 3:1-5 This passage speaks of a messenger called Lord of the Temple and “messenger of the covenant.” The first messenger is allegedly Elijah (cf. 4:5) but could refer to St. John the Baptist, whom Christ associated with Elijah (cf. Mt 11:7-15). The first four of these verses are read at Mass on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord because the Church sees Christ as the Lord who comes to his Temple. Christ may be considered also as the messenger of the covenant since he established the New and eternal Covenant. Church tradition has accorded these two messianic roles to Christ present in his public life and his glorious return at his Second Coming. St. Cyril of Jerusalem noted: “[Christ] comes not once, but twice, and the Second Coming will be more glorious than the first...Because of his great mercy, he was made man to teach men and persuade them; when he comes again, all men, whether they want to or not, will be made subject to the power and authority of the King. The words of the prophet Malachi refer to both of these events” (Catecheses ad Illuminandos, 15:1-2) 

Ch 3:6-12 From the text we can infer that the people of Israel had a poor year of farming due to a pestilence such as a plague of locusts (“the devourer”). On account of this, the people could not pay their “tithe,” the ten percent of their good crops that would go to the upkeep of the Temple and for the sustenance of the priests. Malachi’s word urged payment of the tithe in spite of a poor harvest in the sure hope that God would bountifully reward their generosity.

Ch 3:13-18 The question of why God allows sinners to prosper (and why the good sometimes suffer) continued to plague Israel. Malachi assured them that God’s judgment would prevail and that evildoers would be brought to justice. (CCC 309-311, 678)

Ch 4:1-3 While unrepentant sinners will be punished on the Day of Judgment, the righteous will enjoy the “sun of righteousness.” A similar term is used in the Canticle of Zechariah (cf. Lk 1:78).

Ch 4:4-6 Elijah was taken bodily into Heaven without dying (cf. 2 Kgs 2:11), and he was widely expected to return in order to proclaim the Messiah. Malachi makes this expectation explicit. Because of this anticipation, people later questioned whether St. John the Baptist or Christ himself is the returning Elijah. John denied being Elijah, but Christ later identified him as Elijah, although it is not completely clear what he actually meant (cf. Mt 17:12-13). These last verses point to the Transfiguration since Christ’s appearance with Moses and Elijah demonstrates that he fulfilled the Law and the prophets and that the New Covenant he established would last forever. (CCC 2583)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Elijah Returns

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. We thank you. We thank you for bringing us all the way through this time of Return. Thank you for bringing us all the way through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, this story of your people, the people of Israel being brought back to the land by YOU, by your love and by your faithfulness. We thank you also for Haggai and Zechariah, for Esther and her story, for Malachi today, this prophet who prophesied so much, especially of your coming to us, your coming to us in the form of John the Baptist and his words of prophecy and also the Day of the Lord that did come to us when you took on flesh in Lord Jesus and delivered us from our sins. You also will come again. And so we say, “Come Lord Jesus. Come Lord Jesus.” We make this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.”