Haggai and the remnant

Friends in Christ, today and tomorrow, the first reading is taken from the Book of the Prophet Haggai. Who is this prophet and what is he about?
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Haggai is one of the Minor Prophets, toward the end of the Old Testament. This book has only two chapters and so is one of the shortest books of the Old Testament. It was written in 520BC during the reign of Darius I of Persia, and the theme of the Book is that he is urging the people to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.
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In 587BC, the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem, killed many of the leaders, and took the people into captivity back in Babylon; this is called the Babylonian Captivity. They also destroyed the Temple, which had been built under Solomon. It was a national disaster.
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For many years the people lived in Babylon, but then the Persians conquered Babylon, and King Darius decreed that the Jews could return home. Returning to a devasted land, the people began to rebuild the temple, but because of a lack of resources they gave up.
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In 520BC, Haggai the prophet began to urge them to take heart and finish the job, which they did, completing the temple in 515BC. The importance of this to us is that God had promised that he would not abandon his people, and that a remnant would remain from the line of David. From this remnant would come the Messiah, and so Haggai saw the critical importance of urging the people not to loose heart but to keep going, because they themselves, and their true worship of the Living God would be what would one day bring salvation, in the Savior.
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He was correct. That same temple was there in the year 1, when the Messiah came down from heaven to begin his mission. But this situation, of the small remnant being the carrier of salvation through difficult and bleak times, is a theme that reoccurs again and again. I think this is where we are today. Yes, there are still millions who say they are Catholic or Christian, but the real followers of Jesus Christ who are ready to give even their life for the Lord, stand for truth and goodness against a pagan society that rejects truth and the moral law – well, I think that we have to be that remnant now, especially in the West; this is our role today in the great story of salvation.

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