“…For he is like the refiner’s fire, or like the fuller’s lye.” (Mal 3:2)
This excerpt from the first reading (Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24) provides a wake-up call for Christians. In the last chapter of his book, the prophet speaks of the coming of God’s “messenger” (the message is the Word) and the preparation He will provide (a foretelling of John the Baptist — see Mt 11:13–14; 17:10–13; Mk 9:9–13; Lk 1:17).
The refiner purifies, gets rid of the dross, to produce a pure and beautiful product. This is what Jesus does to those who embrace Him. Troubles will come, regardless, but how we handle them makes all the difference. “Offer it up” is easier said than done, but it is Christ-like since He offered up His life and death to the Father. And when our own sin causes us distress, consider it a gift, a necessary corrective to get us back on the narrow path.
So, with Christmas just two days away, let us rejoice in the coming of the Savior into the world but, more importantly, let us let Him into our lives, in every aspect, so that He can refine us into His beautiful image. Painful as it sometimes will be, the final product will be heavenly.