Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
9 And as they were coming down the mountain, 10 the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Eli′jah must come?” 11 He replied, “Eli′jah does come, and he is to restore all things; 12 but I tell you that Eli′jah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
Cited in the Catechism: In promulgating the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Blessed John Paul II explained that the Catechism “is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium.” He went on to “declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion” (Fidei Depositum). Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraph 718.
17:10–13. Malachi 4:5 (3:23 in the Hebrew) speaks of the coming of Elijah the prophet before “the great and terrible day of the Lord”, the Judgment Day. When Jesus says that Elijah has already come, he is referring to St John the Baptist, whose mission it was to prepare the way for the first coming of the Lord, the same as Elijah will have to do prior to his last coming. The scribes failed to grasp the meaning of the prophecy of Malachi; they thought it referred simply to the coming of the Messiah, the first coming of Christ.
Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
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“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” St Jerome