The Responsorial Psalm gives us the starting point of fulfillment: “Lord, make us turn to you” (Psalm 80).
Sirach 48: 1-11 tells us this was the role of the prophet Elijah: “to turn back the hearts of fathers toward their children, and to re-establish the tribes of Israel.”
This was also John the Baptizer’s role: “He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of… the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1: 16-17).
Jesus said that for those who were “willing to accept it,” John the Baptizer was “Elijah who is to come” (Matthew 11:14). But the “spirit and power” of John (and of Jesus) was very different from Elijah’s.
Elijah killed his enemies (1 Kings 18:40; 2 Kings 1:10). But Matthew 17: 10-13 tells us God let John and Jesus both be killed by theirs: “Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” So If we want to seek fulfillment in working with Jesus to establish the reign of God on earth, we have to convert — “turn” — to the way John and Jesus did it. When we pray, “Lord, make us turn to you,” we need to know that we are asking to accept the way of nonviolence, the way of vulnerability, gentleness and love. To “turn the hearts” of the world back to God, we have to be willing to speak truth and be made fun of, to minister with love and be rejected, to help others carry their cross and then be put on it to die in their place. The only way to save the world is to “endure evil with love” — to accept whatever people do to us and “love back.”
If we seek fulfillment in working with Jesus for the renewal of society — striving to bring about changes in family and social life, in business and politics, in the Church — we need to know that we will find fulfillment only in “emptying” ourselves as Jesus did: “who… did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave… and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
This is the spirit of Jesus. This is what we are asking for when we pray, “Lord, make us turn to you.” This is the only way to fulfillment.
Initiative: If you seek fulfillment, seek it where it can be found. Work with Jesus. Resolve to work for changes — at home, at school or work, at church — but only if you are willing to love back when you are attacked or rejected for doing it.