Guess who’s coming to dinner
I used to drive a big, blue Cadillac. Sometimes, I would hitch. Now, I have a sleek, silver Tesla. Sometimes, I ride a rusted bicycle.
In the time of the Romans, when the fastest vehicle was an iron chariot pulled by a pair of muscular stallions, I would often sit at the gate of Rome amongst the lepers. You could spot me by how I wore my bandages. I would be wrapping them one by one, so as to be ready to spring into action (Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a). Yes, long before cellphones, messages came through quickly, at least from a Higher Source.
For hundreds of years when villages dotted the countryside of Eastern Europe, I appeared as a beggar. Jews would eagerly wonder upon seeing a wanderer in need, “Could he be the one?” On a cold day, I would knock on a door to see if those in front of the fire would invite me in. And what I found amazing was that other strangers were regularly invited to weddings, Pesech seders, and Friday night meals, because people hoped that their mystery guest was me.
Already, the prophet Malachi, over 2500 years ago, proclaimed, “in that awesome day Elijah will proclaim the end of days” (Malachi 3:23). Ever since people have awaited my announcement. For I never died. At the end of my days, during which I suffered as a prophet, God whisked my upward on a fiery chariot. I dropped my cloak for Elisha, my devoted protege, to carry on the work of hope making (II Kings 2).
I will come. I will come. Put out a glass of wine for me at your Seder. I will stop by when you open the door after the festive meal. I will come, but do not expect that I will drink from your glass. For I still await the Divine call. I too have not yet found the world ready for the Final Days of Harmony. The test is the equal treatment of rich and poor. Whether on soft leather in a Rolls Royce or walking with tattered shoes, God sees all people as God’s children. God suffers when the poor are labeled as losers or the rich are labeled as callous. God eschews labels. It is actions, including words, that define true equality. The Messianic era will commence when a person cares for the stranger as an unmet brother or sister. God cries when the helpless are ignored, whether in meeting physical or emotional needs. I will come to your home to observe your telling the story of slavery past and savoring your enjoyment of freedom now. But, I will only stay to proclaim, “Now is the time!” when by single acts of kindness a collective mindset of love and justice pervades (Psalm 95:7).
I am coming for dinner. Fill up my glass of wine. Please consider in your Pesech conversation, what it would take for me to stay.
With love and hopes for the future,
Elijah, the prophet