Advent began with readings that remind us of the double meaning of the season, the two comings of Christ: The first coming with the conception and birth of Jesus and the second coming at the end of time.
Today on the last full day of Advent we have the same reminders. In the first reading we have the promise of Elijah. Elijah who is said to be the prophet who will return to usher in the the messianic age, the final kingdom of peace and brotherhood.
In the Jewish tradition there has always been great debate over how many cups of wine should be drunk at Passover, four or five. Jewish pour the fifth cup but do not drink it. It is called Elijah's cup because he will settle the conflict. Also in some Jewish communities the door is opened by a child for Elijah.
The gospel then turns to the prophet who prepared for the first coming announcing his arrival, John the Baptist.
In these last hours as we prepare to celebrate the first coming, we too need to make sure that in the midst of the cooking, shopping, packing, and other activity that we pause at least once today to pray. To still our minds and hearts and prepare ourselves to receive Christ anew.