Thursday, September 24, 2009

This Is The Word Of The Lord.

Reading 1
Haggai 1:1-8

During the second year of the reign of Darius, King of Persia, on the first day of the sixth month (which, on our calendar, would be August 29) the LORD spoke through Haggai the prophet to the leader of the people of Judah, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and to the High Priest Jeshua, son of Jehozadak.

Thus says the LORD of Hosts through the voice of the prophet Haggai: “People are saying that it is not time to rebuild the house of the LORD. But you are living in fine, well-furnished houses, while this house (God’s temple) lies in ruins. Think twice about what you are doing. You have sown much seed, but little has grown. You have eaten, but not been satisfied. You have drunk, but have not been exhilarate. You have clothed yourselves, but your clothes do not keep you warm. You have worked for wages, but your money bag has a hole in it.

The LORD of Hosts says: “Think again about what you are doing. Go up into the hill country and bring back timber to build my house. That will make me happy, and give me glory. This is the word of the LORD.


Luke 9:7-9

Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee, heard about what was happening in the territory which he administered under Roman rule. He was especially concerned because people were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead”, while others were saying, “Elijah has appeared; still others said, “One of the prophets of old has returned.” Herod had a guilty conscience, and kept reminding himself that he had ordered the death of John the Baptist at the request of Herodias. But he kept asking himself, “Then, who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him.

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Jesus started out as a street preacher in the towns and villages of Galilee. But now he is starting to attract the attention of the authorities. The synagogue officials in Nazareth are uncomfortable with the way he preaches – with authority. Herod the younger, one of four governors of Galilee, (which is why he is called “tetrarch”) is trying to figure out just who Jesus is. He has heard the rumors: Some say that he is John the Baptist brought back to life. Others, that one of the prophets of old has returned; and some even name Elijah. Now, that would have been disturbing to anyone who was familiar with the prophesies: Elijah and the prophets were supposed to return at the end of the ages, when God would come to judge the world by fire.

The fact is that what was bothering Herod, sometimes giving him bad dreams, sometimes keeping him awake all night long. The truth is that what was bothering Herod was not the ghost of the prophet he had executed, nor that of a precursor of the end of the ages. It was his own bad conscience that was causing his insomnia.

Herod’s appearance in the Gospel at this juncture is ominous, especially his interest in Jesus. It is at this point mere curiosity, unlike the genuine interest that true disciples have in him. Consider, in contrast, the response of the Twelve, especially Peter, in Luke 9:18:20.

The mere mention of Herod’s name is sufficient to remind us of the passion and death of Jesus. The three verses of today’s gospel reading are slipped in between the mission of the Twelve, and their return with reports of their success. These few words set the theme: suffering and death will be the lot of Jesus’ disciples, just as it had been for Jesus and for John before him. When Jesus says, “Come, follow me”, we have two choices: to go with him, as the Twelve did, or to walk away sad, like the rich young man. There are no easy options: and don’t say you haven’t been warned!

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