Greater will be the future glory of this house than the former, says the Lord of Hosts, and in this place I will grant prosperity. Haggai 2:9
We took that as our theme for our Parish Diamond Jubilee in 2007 and now the future has arrived and we are living in the middle of the answer to our Jubilee prayer. The prophet Haggai was an old man by the time he prophesied in Jerusalem. Haggai had witnessed the destruction of his city and the Temple and now after his people returned from exile he was calling them to rise up from the ashes of exile and reclaim their rightful place as God’s light to the nations. What makes Haggai exceptional among the Hebrew prophets is that the people actually took his message to heart and did in fact rebuild their city and the Temple. His message was passionate, simple and straightforward. And what the people discovered while rebuilding the Temple was that a shift in their own spiritual attitude from a focus on self to a focus on God had occurred. The message is simple and applies to believers of every age: put God at the center of your lives and your nation and the blessings God promised will be yours in abundance.
As the Jews began rebuilding the Temple they faced great resistance and opposition both internal and external. Haggai chose to focus on the internal opposition that was a result of the people’s preoccupation with their own security and safety at the expense of rebuilding the Temple of God. As usual it comes to us all too easily to place our self-interests first and God’s interests second. And when we do that we do not experience success but only more turmoil and fear. Haggai taught the people to first trust God and then to do the next right thing and all would be well.
With that in mind this week we welcome the Servants of the Plan of God to our Parish. We shouldn’t miss the fact that their community’s name involves the plan of God. Through the prophets God had shown Israel His plan for the salvation of the human family and more specifically their role in the unfolding of that plan. For me at least it has become clear that God has a specific plan for us and our nation and that the upcoming election is irrelevant to that plan. The question then for us is what role will God have us play in the unfolding of His plan for our future? The Sisters I believe will help us discern what that is and how to follow through on it.
Remember before Israel could rebuild destruction had first to take place. These next few months maybe rather turbulent in our land. The best I can say is that it will not be business as usual. The challenge for us is the same challenge that the people of Haggai’s day faced: not to become preoccupied with our own security and safety but rather to entrust ourselves to the work God has given us.
Now is the time for rejoicing and being grateful that this group of young sisters chose our community to begin their work in the US. Believe me they did not throw a dart at the map and hit Tempe. Their prayer and discernment led them to understand that God was asking them to come here to this place at this time. The future is greater than the past!
Please join us on Friday evening at Sky Harbor Airport to welcome the sisters (Sr. Veronica, Sr. Maria Christina, Sr. Maria Alejandra, Sr. Maria Jose). The sisters arrive on October 28th on United Airlines #5512 via Los Angeles at 5:36pm, Terminal 2.
Hope to see you there!
Love, Fr. John B.
PS Also no coincidence that the Sisters arrive to begin their ministry in our Diocese on the feast day of Ss. Simon and Jude the patron saints of our Cathedral. The sisters have an unusual knack for having perfect timing. Maybe it has something to do with the plan of God?!