The first reading today gives us words spoken by the Prophet Haggai in the second year of the reign of Darius of Persia. History tells us that Darius took the throne in the year 522 B.C,, so we know the year here had to have been 521 B.C.
Haggai’s words were a pep talk for the people of Jerusalem, telling them to get off their cushions, to get to work on building God’s temple. Ten year before, when they were freed from their Babylonian captivity, and they were making their way back to Jerusalem, they were like men dreaming, and their mouths were filled with laughter. They were excited about the idea of rebuilding their temple.
But now, ten years have passed, and they have done nothing about the temple. They have taken care of their own needs. They have built their brick houses, paneling the interior walls with cedar, but they have grown vague about plans for building God’s house.
Haggai points out to the people that their self-indulgence has led to feelings of lassitude. Nothing satisfies them any longer. “You have eaten, but have not been satisfied. You have drunk, but have not been exhilarated.”
He was telling them that if they wanted to be happy with their lives, they would need to lay aside taking care of themselves, and start pleasing God.
Applied to us, Haggai is saying that if we want to live happier lives what we need is not a new car or an expensive vacation. What we need is to bury ourselves in God’s work, taking on projects for God’s needy ones.