Hg 1:1-8; Ps 149:1-9; Lk 9:7-9
What is the glory of all his faithful? This is our glory that the LORD takes delight in us, his people. God’s own glory is for us to be fully alive in his love. God finds his delight in our growth in virtue; in our becoming holy as the LORD our God is holy. The more we become like the one, in whose image and likeness we were made; the more alive we are and the more we give glory to God. It is our purpose and destiny to sing to the LORD a new song in the assembly of the faithful. It is our glory and joy to be glad in our Maker and to rejoice in our King, the LORD of heaven and earth. We are called to praise his name in the festive dance of the Liturgy and to sing praise with timbrel and harp. For the LORD loves us and he adorns us with victory over hopelessness and despair. Indeed, it is this liturgy that the priest, Saint Vincent de Paul, celebrated and lived out in his life of loving service to the poor and hopeless of his day. Saint Vincent’s faithful and tender service to the despairing of his time enabled them to exult in glory and sing for joy. We, too, are summoned by the LORD of hosts to build for him a house among the people we serve. So that the LORD may take pleasure in it and receive his glory from all who are rescued from that poverty which diminishes human dignity. Only if we are true to this calling will we be able to do what Herod the tetrarch could not do, see the Lord Jesus.
After a few years of return from exile our ancestors grew weary with all the sacrifice necessary to rebuild the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. Out of his constant mercy and faithful love the LORD did not abandon his people in their weakness; he sent them another prophet. The word of the LORD came to them with great comfort and severe challenge. The prophet Haggai preached the word of the LORD, “Consider your ways!” This word from the LORD of hosts we, too, must hear and heed. All our success in this world, all that we have accomplished does not satisfy; it does not exhilarate. “And whoever earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it.” We cannot hold on to our success and honor in this world. We must use all that we have for the sake of His Kingdom. We must build up those who have little success and no honor by a life of generous service and self-giving love. Only this sacrifice will enable us to build a house in which the LORD will take pleasure and receive his glory. The returned exiles too easily ignored the purpose of their freedom. We, too, ignore the purpose of our freedom. We are truly free only when we obey the will of God. Only when we give ourselves over to his will and purpose do we find true freedom and great joy. Indeed, we have been set free from the oppression and slavery of our “free choices” to sin and seek our own satisfaction. We have been saved from slavery to our own whims and desires. We have been set free to fulfill the deepest desire of our hearts, to seek the face of the LORD.
Herod, the tetrarch, heard about the Lord Jesus, and he was greatly perplexed because of all the rumors. Some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead.” This caused him great fear because he murdered John the Baptist out of his pride and lust. Others were saying, “Elijah has appeared.” This, too, caused him great discomfort because Elijah was supposed to return in advance of the coming of the true King of Israel. Even the return of the ancient prophets would not be a comfort to him because he had rejected the prophet John. So Herod argued, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” From his position of power, Herod could not see the Lord Jesus. Such power and wealth blinds leaders in every generation. Everyone who had power at the time of Saint Vincent de Paul could not see the Lord Jesus in the faces of those whom Saint Vincent served. All they could say was let him alone and perhaps he will keep the poor from violence, and we will be secure in our wealth. Even in our own day wealth can fool us into thinking we are doing good for others when in fact we are “giving them cake” so that we feel good about ourselves. Still the prophet Haggai has something to say to us, “Consider your ways!” In this Eucharist we, who seek the Lord Jesus in solidarity with the poor and hopeless, find the bread we need to break ourselves open and feed all who hunger for hope and security.