The Responsorial Psalm tells us not to put limits on what we expect from God: “Hope in God; I will praise
him, my savior and my God” (Psalm 43).
Haggai 1:15 to 2:9 deals with the negativism of people who are always looking backwards: “You that saw this house in its former glory; how do you see it now? Does it not seem like nothing in your eyes?” People see the Church being renewed before their eyes, and complain because it isn’t like the Church they grew up in. They are like people who would like to regenerate the dinosaurs, just to have them die out again for lack of habitat. Environments are constantly changing. We adapt or we die. But we don’t just suffer adaptation; we initiate change. The only way to live in the present is to work for the future.
Our God is “infinite,” without limits, not boxed in, always improving things, expanding horizons, leading us forward. Jesus came that we might “have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Our working attitude is: “Hope in God; I will praise him, my savior and my God.”
Through Haggai God told the Jews, “Take courage… and work!” Work is the expression of hope. Passivity is despair. God calls us to believe always that he is making things better and to cooperate with him. “Greater will be the future glory of this house than the former. And in this place I will give peace, says the Lord of hosts!” This is taking place on earth today. The Church is being renewed, and we are called to renew it. And through the Church the world will be renewed. It is our mission to renew it. This is the Church’s faith, expressed in her traditional prayer: “Send forth your Spirit and our hearts shall be regenerated. And you will renew the face of the earth!”
To believe this is to work for it. To work for it is to take initiatives. To take initiatives is to be a leader, a steward of the kingship of Christ. This is our baptismal commitment.
Luke 9: 18-22 addresses the root of our discouragement: Jesus wins by losing. He gave life to the world by dying. And we give life to others (and gain it for ourselves) by dying to ourselves to live for God and others in love. To “die to ourselves” is not just to be unselfish; it is to die to our expectations, our natural guidance system, our way of doing things. It is to accept God’s way, which is very different from ours. “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.” God’s way is the way of the cross. It is the only way. To follow it, we must keep saying, no matter what, “Hope in God… my savior and my God.”
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Look beyond the present. Work for change.