Today’s first reading in the liturgy is the opening of the prophet Haggai. This is an interesting Book in the Bible because he is focused on one task, to rebuild the temple.
The people live in paneled houses, while God’s house lies in ruins. The prophet is single-minded in his preaching: now is the time to build the temple. The people keep saying: this is not the time. In Hebrew it is: Lo ayth…not now.
All time belongs to God. It is always His time. Haggai reminds the people that everything is going wrong for them because they are not rebuilding the Temple. "Now thus says the Lord of hosts: consider how you have fared. You have sown much but harvested little: you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages earns wages to put them into a bag with holes."
Then Haggai gives this recurring theme: "Thus says the Lord of hosts: consider how you have fared". In Hebrew he says: put your heart on your ways. Put it in your heart that without God your lives are a disaster.
Probably today the biggest lie we hear is that God is not that important in our practical lives, nor do we have to be concerned about that temple of God’s presence that we are.
But Paul says: "do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?" 1 Cor 6:19 Temple maintenance is important: "If any man destroys the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, and such are you." 1 Cor 3:17
I think Haggai reminds us today, 2500 years later, how important it is that we rebuild this temple of ourselves that sadly can fall into ruin. Paul again reminds us: "What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God as God said: I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." 2 Cor 6:16
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. gives parish missions and retreats. He is a member of the Passionist community in Detroit, Michigan.