Thursday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Haggai 1:1-8; Luke 9:7-9)
Fifteen years ago the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was building its new cathedral with a price tag of $300 million. A group of lay Catholics who worked with the very poor were especially scandalized by the amount and actively protested the construction. With prophetic boldness they claimed there was a needless extravagance. Confident that the Archdiocese was caring sufficiently for the poor, Cardinal Mahoney proceeded with the project.
We hear of a similar tug-a-war between spending on social needs and constructing a monument to God in the reading from the prophet Haggai today. In this case, the prophet takes the side of construction. He speaks out what he hears God telling him: that concentrating on human needs has brought little social benefit; now is the time to give God His due and to trust in God’s providence.
Interesting, economists have verified the strategy of spending money on social projects like a Temple in times of recession. It provides jobs for people which stimulate consumer spending and the creation of wealth. Building a temple or a church will also remind us to keep our priorities in order. First we worship God and then take care of other needs. He will see that we are not left wanting.