Not much optimism in our world today. Too many signs of bad days ahead; in fact, they may be already here.
We’re reading in our lectionary this week about the Period of Restoration, when some Jews returned to Judea and Jerusalem to restore Judaism, about 520 BC. Their dreams were fed by prophets like Jeremiah who promised: “Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion, they shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings: the grain, the wine, and the oil, the sheep and the oxen; they themselves shall be like watered gardens, never again shall they languish.” (Jer. 31)
Their dreams are dashed by what they find, a city in ruins and a people there who want no part of them. So they turn away and take care of themselves.
The Prophet Haggai speaks: “Thus says the LORD of hosts: This people says:“The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.”(Then this word of the LORD came through Haggai, the prophet:) Is it time for you to dwell in your own paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways! Go up into the hill country; bring timber, and build the house that I may take pleasure in it and receive my glory, says the LORD.” (Haggai 1:1-8)
We too are a people promised so much. The wars we fought would bring peace to our country and the world. Science promised a cure for everything and unlimited treasures from technology. I remember the heady days after the Second Vatican Council and the promise of a renewed church. Who expected Covid 19 and Climate Change, a fractious country and church, a world that’s a mess?
On the feast of St. Matthew, September 21, St. Paul challenged the people of Ephesus:
“You are no longer aliens or foreign visitors: you are citizens like all the saints, and part of God’s household. You are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone. As every structure is aligned on him, all grow into one holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built into a house where God lives, in the Spirit. (Ephesian 2: 19-22)
There’s more than Covid 19 and Climate Change going on in our world. God’s kingdom is coming, being built even now. Not a time for building paneled houses for ourselves. Time to “Go up into the hill country; bring timber, and build the house that I may take pleasure in it and receive my glory, says the LORD.”