Considering our Ways and Giving Each Day to the Lord, 25th Thursday (I), September 28, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Thursday of the 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Lawrence Ruiz and his Companions
September 28, 2017
Hg 1:1-8, Ps 149, Lk 9:7-9

 

To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click here: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • Today the Church continues to give us reflections on the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem after the exile, which is meant to help us ponder Jesus’ resurrection (the True Temple), the temple that is the Church, and the temple that is meant to be each of us together with Jesus. If Monday through Wednesday this week, we had the three times in two years we’ll listen to the Book of Ezra, today we have the first of only two days we have the Prophet Haggai, and insofar as tomorrow is the Feast of St. Michael and we’ll have proper readings, today is the only chance we have in two years to listen liturgically to Haggai. So let’s listen well to the message God wants us to get through him!
  • In the first reading, we see how the Lord sent Haggai to wake up the people of God whom the Lord had freed from exile. It was during the time of King Darius, the son of Cyrus, who had allowed the Jews to return and helped them to start rebuilding the Temple. The Jews built something quick and temporary on the Temple Mount, but then started to prioritize their own affairs. They were saying, “The time has not yet come to rebuild the House of the Lord.” They were delaying the things of God for their own affairs, and building their own luxurious paneled houses instead of the Temple. Haggai, speaking for the Lord said, “Is it time for you to dwell in your own paneled houses, while this house [of God] lies in ruins?” He then went on to say that they would never find fulfillment in sowing, eating, drinking, clothing, or money making. The forceful appeal of the Lord was “Consider your ways!” He told them to go get timber and begin to build the house of the Lord “that I may take pleasure in it and receive my glory.” That might seem like an egocentric statement, but it’s not. The Lord takes pleasure in loving us — we prayed in the Psalm, “The Lord takes delight in his people” — and his glory is, as St. Ireneus would say at the end of the second century, “man fully alive” through the vision of God. God wanted a house so that we would fittingly worship him because it is through that worship that he builds us into a holy temple. It starts, however, with that zeal. Before the first temple was built, we see an opposite attitude to that of the post-exilic Jews in King David who was eaten alive by the fact that he was living in a palace while the ark of the Covenant, the sign of God’s presence, was in a tent. He wanted to build a fitting temple, but God, through the prophet Nathan, replied that He instead would build a temple for David. That temple was obviously David’s own descendent according to the flesh and God’s own Son, Jesus. We’re all called, however, to have the same zeal to build a house of the Lord because that’s the way the Lord in fact makes us his temple. In the Gospel, Herod was curious to meet Jesus, but Jesus will never be able to build a temple for him to dwell within us by curiosity. There needs to be a true relationship, a union, with the Lord, a hunger for mutual indwelling, something that Herod never had.
  • Today the Church celebrates the feast of the first Filipino saint, St. Lawrence Ruiz, and his companion martyrs who died 380 years ago today. St. Lawrence is someone who responded to God’s call to consider his ways and change. Married with three kids and a very good calligrapher, he may have murdered a man in the Philippines; regardless, he was accused of murder and was fleeing the charges and the death penalty that came with them. He got on a boat with Dominican priests, a Japanese priest and a leper and landed in Japan. Soon thereafter he was arrested during the ferocious Tokugowa shogunate. The Japanese sadists went through their normal mind games with their prisoners trying to get them to apostatize and it seems that St. Lawrence asked the question whether his life would really be saved if he denied his faith. Regardless, he didn’t. And when they were about to torture him by hanging him upside down by his heels over a pit with a cut behind his ear so that he would bleed to death over three days, he said, famously, “I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for God; Had I a thousand lives, all these to Him shall I offer.” He would go the way of the grain of wheat. He would save his life by giving it to the Lord. He would build up an eternal mansion precisely by allowing his earthly tent to be destroyed.
  • Today, we will likely not be tortured and hung upside down to die. We won’t be asked to give our life today for God. But whether we have 1000 days, 100 years, or many lives to give, will we give them wholeheartedly for the Lord? Will we give our lives out of love for him through dying and living for others? Will we sow, eat, drink and clothe ourselves in the Gospel, the Eucharist, and the virtues of Christ? We have a chance to do that at every Mass as, in exchange for the Lord’s giving his life for us — something he would do 1000 times over, 1000 times more painfully — we can offer our bodies and our lives as a holy and acceptable sacrifice, the only worship that makes sense (Rom 12:1). As we do so, considering our ways, we beg the Lord through St. Lawrence’s intercession, to have zeal for the Lord’s house consume us!

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
HG 1:1-8

On the first day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius,
The word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai
to the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel,
and to the high priest Joshua, son of Jehozadak:
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?
Now thus says the LORD of hosts:
Consider your ways!
You have sown much, but have brought in little;
you have eaten, but have not been satisfied;
You have drunk, but have not been exhilarated;
have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed;
And whoever earned wages
earned them for a bag with holes in it.
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.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 149:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6A AND 9B

R. (see 4a) The Lord takes delight in his people.
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches;
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.

Gospel
LK 9:7-9

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening,
and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying,
“John has been raised from the dead”;
others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”;
still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
But Herod said, “John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
And he kept trying to see him.