Malachi, means ‘my messenger’, was most likely the last prophet of the Old Testament era in the 5 th century B.C.E. The
message of Malachi can be summed up in one sentence: The Great King (1:14) will come not only to judge his people
(3:1-5; 4:1) but also to bless and restore them (3:6-12; 4:2). The context is this: The temple has been re-built in 516, the
walls have been re-built in 445, the priesthood has been re-established and sacrifices have re-commenced at the temple.
When they were reasonably secure from their enemies, corruption crept into the common life of the people. They had the
reality of a corrupt priesthood (Mal 1:6-8), whereby
they accepted the poorest of the herd or flock for sacrifice – against the instructions of Leviticus 1:3 – and a people who
had allowed themselves to submit to a ‘form of religion’ rather than the relationship that the Lord had called them to
establish. The Israelites were confronted with secularized behaviour (e.g. the offerings 1:7ff or the priests 2:8). They
started mistreating their own brothers and sisters. Malachi questions the people for their indifference: “Have we not all
one father? Has not one God created us” (Mal 2:10)? Malachi admonished the Israelites’ doubt of God’s love (1:2-5) and
the faithlessness of both priests (1:6-2:9) and people (2:10-16). To their charge that God is unjust (2:17) because he has
failed to come in judgment to exalt his people, Malachi answers with an announcement and a warning. The Lord they seek
will come – but he will come ‘like a refiner’s fire’ (3:1-4). He will come to judge – but he will judge his people first (3:5).
In fact Malachi repeats what Prophet Jeremiah had said years ago: “I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin
against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me” (Jer 33:8).
The real religion has to develop the faith that addresses poverty. The hypocrites give alms, pray, and fast to be glorified by
others rather than to glorify God; such elevating of the self follows the hierarchal pattern of the empire and not the mutual
solidarity and good news for the poor required by God’s Kingdom. God warns his priests: “Oh, that someone among you
would shut the temple doors, so that you would not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the
Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hands” (Mal 1:10). It is a call to avoid exploiting the poor for
self-enrichment in our religious worship. Nevertheless, mostly we ignore the controversial, revolutionary nature of a poor,
and propose resurrected Jesus as Lord and Saviour, who challenges the wealthy, immortalized Caesar.
We forget that the Kingdom of God is about economic and social rights in the “here and now” and that the messiah Jesus came to usher in
this reign. The good news has been reduced to an individualized acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, severed
from his mission to the world. And even that mission has been hollowed out by selective and superficial quotation,
reduced to a patronizing and charity-centered care for the poor that leaves the structures of oppression and exploitation
intact. We deny that the poor are God’s people and are at the centre of God’s concern, and ignore that Jesus was a leader
of a revolutionary movement of the poor who, rather than mitigating the unfortunate inevitability of poverty, called for a
movement to transform heaven and earth. “A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring. In a society
marred by widening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46)
and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.” The Catholic Church has had a long tradition of co-
ordinating charity to the poor, something that was closely linked to the early Christian Eucharist, with the office of deacon
being started for this purpose. The Eucharist, the greatest worship, calls everyone for sharing what one is and what one
has, thus, it is not a venue to show off fashion, but to dress decently, respecting oneself and others (respectful dress code).
In our religious worship “not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one
who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Mt 7:21). As the Lord does not change His assurances and determination, Israel had not been completely shattered for her stubborn unfaithfulness (Mal 3:6). But only through repentance andreformation, Israel would again experience God’s blessing (3:6-12). Those who honour the Lord would be spared when
He comes to judge (3:16-18). In conclusion, Malachi once again reassures and warns his readers that “the great and
terrible day of the Lord” (4:5) “is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the
day that comes shall burn them up” (4:1). In that day the righteous will rejoice and “you shall tread down the wicked”
(4:3) and “remember the teaching of my servant Moses” (4:4). To prepare His people for that great day the Lord says, “I
will send ‘my messenger’ to call them back to the godly ways of their forefathers”. Jesus, the messenger and the risen
from the dead, says in his parable of the rich man and Lazarus these ironic words, Abraham said to the rich man: “If they
do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Lk 16:31).