The Church remembers St. Haggai on Dec. 16.
And in this place I will give you peace. ―Haggai 2:9b
Because of various specifics Haggai offers within his prophecies, historians can determine that he began his oracles in August of 520 B.C., nearly two decades after the Jewish people were first allowed to return to their homeland, ending their long captivity in Babylonia. Haggai was a contemporary of Zechariah
, and both prophets were called by God to encourage the people of Judah to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been destroyed during the exile.
The Jewish people of this time frame had experienced almost twenty years of high hopes nearly dwindled away by unexpected obstructions. Economic challenges and resistance from people who had settled in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas made life difficult upon their return. Frustrated and discouraged, the Jews became very sluggish in rebuilding their Temple. Many abandoned the effort and put extra work into their homes instead.
Haggai was a perfect prophet for this time of confusion; he understood the importance of getting the Lord’s Temple rebuilt and heartily promoted the project. Haggai’s words seemed to offer just the motivation needed, for within weeks, the Jews got to work on the new Temple. By 515 B.C. (just five years later), it was completed.
In the midst of the construction, those who remembered the original Temple were disappointed as they saw the new Temple evolving into a much smaller structure. Haggai, however, proclaimed that God would still be with the people and bless them, no matter the reduced physical grandeur of the new Temple.
Haggai wrapped up his oracles with a pronouncement to the governor, Zerubbabel, who did much in response to Haggai’s encouragement. Haggai pledged that Zerubbabel was to be set as a “signet ring”―a symbol of authority. This proclamation likely alluded to Zerubbabel’s ancestral ties to the former monarchy as well as to the future Messiah, Jesus.
Nine Days with St. Haggai
The Church remembers St. Haggai on Dec. 16. If you see that your church needs some work: structurally or spiritually, you might want to turn to St. Haggai for insight and encouragement. Consider reading the nine passages below, one a day for nine days—making the devotion novena-like. Copy any verses that snag your heart, pray about each reading, and write down any new insights that come to mind. Ask St. Haggai to pray for you (and your parish!) during the nine days of study. At the end of the nine days, try to notice any shifts in your heart.
Day 1) Ezra 5:1–2
Day 2) Haggai 1:1–4
Day 3) Haggai 1:7–8
Day 4) Haggai 1:12–13
Day 5) Haggai 2:3
Day 6) Haggai 2:9
Day 7) Haggai 2:18–19
Day 8) Haggai 2:23
Day 9) Matthew 1:12–13