In the second year of King Darius,
on the twenty-first day of the seventh month,
the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai:
Tell this to the governor of Judah,
Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel,
and to the high priest Joshua, son of Jehozadak,
and to the remnant of the people:
Who is left among you
that saw this house in its former glory?
And how do you see it now?
Does it not seem like nothing in your eyes?
But now take courage, Zerubbabel, says the LORD,
and take courage, Joshua, high priest, son of Jehozadak,
And take courage, all you people of the land,
says the LORD, and work!
For I am with you, says the LORD of hosts.
This is the pact that I made with you
when you came out of Egypt,
And my spirit continues in your midst;
do not fear!
For thus says the LORD of hosts:
One moment yet, a little while,
and I will shake the heavens and the earth,
the sea and the dry land.
I will shake all the nations,
and the treasures of all the nations will come in,
And I will fill this house with glory,
says the LORD of hosts.
Mine is the silver and mine the gold,
says the LORD of hosts.
Greater will be the future glory of this house
than the former, says the LORD of hosts;
And in this place I will give you peace,
says the LORD of hosts!
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude,
and the disciples were with him,
he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah;
still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.””
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”
He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.
He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Written by: Rev. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: Aim at the lasting results more than the temporal ones.
When confronting with challenges of life, many like easy, quick, and temporal solutions; but such solutions will not bring the good and lasting results for people. Many times, they have to restart from the beginning again. For example, to study a language; instead of beginning with studying the grammar and memorizing vocabularies, many start with memorizing popular sentences. When they were asked the popular sentences, they can answer; but when they have to construct new sentences, they don’t know how to put them together. Similarly, to gain the lasting result, one needs to find out the true cause of the problem, and must patiently find out the proper solution for it, even though one must spend a longer time and accept sufferings.
Today readings show two examples to help people to solve their problems from the root. In the first reading, the prophet Haggai advices all responsible leaders and people that they must pay a careful attention to the rebuilding of the Temple instead of settle their life, since it is the place of God to stay with men to instruct and to bless them. The rebuilding of the Temple after the Exile surely will meet difficulties, but they have to master them, because the Temple will benefit the Israelites greatly. In the Gospel, after Peter proclaiming the true identity of Jesus, he fortells the first time his Passion, so that his disciples know how to prepare to face sufferings when they come. At the same time, he also fortells he will resurrect after three days in the tomb.
1/ Reading I: The second discourse of Haggai
1.1/ The prophet Haggai urges the Israelites to rebuild the Temple.
(1) The reason why the Temple was destroyed: The first Temple, built by Solomon, was destroyed because the Israelites turned their backs to God and worshipped foreign gods. They also committed social injustice against their fellow people. After 70 years on exile, they are released to come back to rebuild their country. Their first reaction is only to settle down their life and family as soon as possible. The prophet Haggai does not think like people. He knows the most important things for people to do are to establish their relationship with God and others. The rebuilding of the Temple is necessary so that people can be gathered together to worship and to learn God’s way to live; if not, they will follow their own way, and might be on exile again.
(2) People should learn a lesson from their past: The prophet Haggai urges people to reflect: “Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem like nothing in your eyes?” Haggai, of course, does not only limit in rebuilding the outside Temple; but also the inside one, which are to live a right relationship with God and with others.
1.2/ The future glory is depending on their effort to overcome present difficulties.
(1) They must overcome present challenges: The Israelites must face many difficulties when they return: job, food, housing, local government, and their surrounding enemies. Haggai knows all these difficulties; but he also recognizes the benefits from the Temple: God’s presence, people’s morality and the nation’s safety. Therefore, he urges them to overcome all difficulties to pay a special attention to the rebuilding of the Temple first. All other needs are not important comparing to the Temple, and God will bless them with that later. He commands them to do God’s will: “But now take courage, Zerubbabel, says the LORD, and take courage, Joshua, high priest, son of Jehozadak, And take courage, all you people of the land, says the LORD, and work! For I am with you, says the LORD of hosts.”
(2) The glory will come in the near future: Haggai continues: “One moment yet, a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will come in, And I will fill this house with glory,
says the LORD of hosts. Mine is the silver and mine the gold, says the LORD of hosts.”
This oracle does not emphasize material things more than spiritual inheritance. Two important and related things Haggai wants to emphasize here are: (1) The Messiah will come; and (2) The faith in God of all nations on earth. The faith in God is no longer limited in the Israelites; but will be opened up to all people on earth. The Jerusalem Temple will be the center for all people to come to.
2/ Gospel: The Son of Man must suffer greatly… and will resurrect on the third day.
2.1/ The need to recognize the Messiah’s identity: One day, Jesus is praying alone; his diciples are also there with him. He puts a question to them: “Who people say I am?”
(1) People did not recognize Jesus’ true identity: The disciples say, some called you John the Baptist. Herode thought Jesus is John the Baptist who has been raised from death. Some called you the prophet Elijah. The Israelites believe Elijah is not dead, he was taken away by God and put at some place. He will be back to prepare the way for the Messiah. Some called you one of former prophets has been raised up.
(2) Peter confessed Jesus’ true identity: Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” The relationship between a man and God is an individual relationship. Others can tell us about God. They can only show us the way or create an opportunity for us to meet God; but to actually live our relationship with God, we need to spend time to learn, to pray, and to live this relationship.
2.2/ The need to recognize the Messiah’s way of salvation: According to Jewish tradition, they expect the Messiah who will come in power and mighty to destroy their enemies, become a king, and recover honor and power for the Israel. This is not God’s will, He wants the Messiah who suffers and dies to set people free from sins, and to give them eternal life. Jesus foretells two things to his disciples.
(1) “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed.”
(2) “And on the third day be raised.” His sufferings are just temporary; but he will resurrect gloriously on the third day.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must face the truth of all problems, with the roots of war and sufferings, before we can solve the problems and build a better life.
– To be glorified, we must courageously accept temporal sufferings. If we refuse to accept them, we never have glory.