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Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Haggai 1:1-8 & Lk. 9:7-9

An uneasy conscience is something painful to live with, as we can see in today’s readings. Herod was disturbed by all the reports he was hearing about Jesus. Some people were suggesting that this popular preacher might be John the Baptist risen from the dead. The rumour reminded Herod that it was he who had put John to death, and it pricked his conscience and caused him anxiety.

The prophet Haggai was also trying to prick consciences. He was concerned with the reconstruction of the temple and the renewal of authentic religion after the people returned from exile in Babylon. They had come back with high hopes of rebuilding it, but then the scope of the project overwhelmed them and internal divisions robbed them of their enthusiasm. Many settled for building their own houses and establishing a comfortable lifestyle. Haggai felt that they were more concerned with their own comfort than they were in providing a suitable place for the worship of the Lord.

Filled with indignation he accused the people of being preoccupied with fleeting pleasures, which he graphically presented in images such as that of eating without being satisfied and of putting earnings in a bag with holes in it. The people were deriving no benefit or satisfaction from all their efforts to earn a living. If only they had put a similar amount of effort into their spiritual lives!

What lesson can we learn from this? God is calling us to build the Church, the body of Christ, in such a way that Catholicism makes a difference to the world. Where do we begin? With ourselves, of course. We rebuild God’s temple every time we turn to Jesus in our need, whenever we say no to sin or choose mercy over judgement. “Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society” St Francis of Assisi once said. What would a rebuilt you look like? You would be living the life of Jesus and what a difference you would make to all around you!

Lord Jesus, help me to realise that when I put Your interests first everything else in my life will fall into its proper place, and I shall be able to make a difference to all around me.

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