In the second year of King Darius, in the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying:
Speak now to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, and say, Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing?
Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit abides among you; do not fear.
For thus says the Lord of hosts: "Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendour, says the Lord of hosts.
The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the Lord of hosts. The latter splendour of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place I will give prosperity," says the Lord of hosts.
Defend me, O God, and plead my cause
against a godless nation.
From deceitful and cunning men
rescue me, O God. (R./)
Since you, O God, are my stronghold,
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go mourning
oppressed by the foe? (R./)
O sent forth your light and your truth;
let these be my guide.
Let them bring me to your holy mountain
to the place where you dwell. (R./)
And I will come to the altar of God,
the God of my joy.
My redeemer, I will thank you on the harp,
O God, my God. (R./)
Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" They answered, "John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "The Messiah of God."
He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, "The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."
Haggai does not banish painful memories of the past but puts them to good use. Facing up to their discouragement, he asks the people to recall in its former glory the temple built by Solomon and demolished by the invaders. "And how do you see it now? Does it not seem like nothing in your eyes?" But if he can awaken painful memories, he is also entitled to remember happier times. He evokes the days of Moses and the covenant at Mount Sinai, "This is the pact that I made with you when you came out of Egypt, and my spirit continues in your midst. Do not fear." To revive their courage, he recalls Israel’s early days of dedication and achievement, their joy at receiving the covenant and their achievement during the glorious reigns of David and Solomon.
After of the tragedy of the exile and the austere years that followed, God inspired in Haggai this cry of messianic hope. We too will be blessed with spiritual insight if we are patient through suffering and persevere in hope.
Luke, more than the other evangelists, regularly portrays Jesus at prayer. It was after such a pause for prayer that he asked his disciples the two questions, "Who do others say I am?" and "Who do you say I am?" They were important questions. The first was general and easy enough to answer; the second was much more personal and more demanding. It asks each of us to say who Jesus is for us, for me personally. It is easier to guess what he means to people in general; it takes a little more reflection to say what he means to me personally. But it is the answer to that second question that matters. He wants us to express our personal faith in him. He asks us, "What do you believe?"