Saturday, 24 September 2011

Now Is the Time to Rebuild

Over the last few days, there have been some wonderfully inspiring readings from the prophet Haggai, which speak directly to the current situation of the Church. After a time of darkness and confusion, which may be best understood as a time of refinement through suffering, we are faced with the task of rebuilding the beauty and majesty of the ancient Church, so that it will be even more splendid than in former days.

Even while persecution increases and liberalism is still so widespread, it is a time of great hope:

‘Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the LORD; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says the LORD; work, for I am with you.’ (Haggai 2:4).

‘The latter splendour of this house will be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts.’ (Haggai 2:9).

Just as in the time of Haggai, God used the high priest as an instrument for rebuilding his house, He is now using the Vicar of Christ, the Holy Father.

But there is a solemn warning for those who would rather build up their own wealth than build the house of the LORD:

‘You have looked for much, and behold, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while you busy yourselves each with his own house.’ (Haggai 1:9).

This reminded me of a point made by Fr Benedict Groeschel about the modest neighbourhood in which he grew up in the thirties, filled with factories and tenements, but each neighbourhood nevertheless having its beautiful church, paid for from the modest incomes of the devout people who lived there. And how many beautiful churches has the last fifty years produced, a time of unrivalled material prosperity? We have looked for much, and it has come to little. ‘He who earns wages earns wages to put them into a bag with holes.’ (Haggai 1:6).

The rewards for devotion are very concrete in the Old Testament: better harvests and prosperity. But the riches we are promised are far greater: the eternal reward of salvation as we co-operate with Christ in his redeeming sacrifice.

Take courage, all you people of the land, says the LORD; work, for I am with you.

Posted by Anthony Radice (A Tiny Son of Mary)


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