11 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Ask the priests what the law says: 12 If someone carries consecrated meat in the fold of their garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, olive oil or other food, does it become consecrated?’”
The priests answered, “No.”
13 Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?”
“Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.”
14 Then Haggai said, “‘So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,’ declares the Lord. ‘Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.
Reflection: Give Careful Thought
By Erin Newton
Purity laws in the Old Testament are usually the part of the Bible we skip over quickly. The laws can seem arbitrary or absurd to our modern mindset. It can be a confusing mess as you start to sort out the defiling offenses and cleansing rituals.
The Lord asks Haggai to remind the priests of these laws. There are two parts to the question. First, can you take something holy and transmit the consecration to something else? Answer: No. Second, can you touch something unclean and transmit the defiled status to something else? Answer: Yes.
One of the beauties of the Old Testament law was that it kept people in constant consideration of their purity status. The laws, when properly followed and upheld, regulated where a person could go and if they could be socially and religiously active. There were laws to repair damaged relationships or purify oneself from an unclean status. Impurity was often not sinful but refusing to acknowledge that state and living carelessly of the law could lead someone into sin.
After decades in exile under the punishment of God, the tides were turning. The day of blessing was on the horizon. God wanted to ensure that the people took time to consider what led them into exile and guard against going down that path again.
Our tendency is to live in the moment. Careful consideration is not a habit that would describe most people today. We are no longer under the laws of the Old Testament, but we can learn from the warning by Haggai. The Lord intends to bless us and to give us life abundantly (John 10.10). But our lives must still be marked by careful consideration.
The grace of God gives us many freedoms in Christ. However, some “freedoms” can become a blight in our relationships. It is imperative that we consider how different voices, influences, habits, or decisions will affect us. We present our lives as living sacrifices but are we choosing to be in contact with something impure?
The law we still follow is to love God and love our neighbors. Anything that interrupts our love of God or love of neighbors is something that defiles our consecrated lives: envy, hatred, greed, sexual immorality, pride, apathy. Let us take time today to carefully consider if we are allowing impurity to take root in our daily lives.
Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “So always treat others as you like them to treat you; that is the Law and the Prophets. — Matthew 7.12
Read more about Emulating Christ’s Love
Proverbs 5.1-6 tells us about the adulteress. She wanders aimlessly. She “gives no thought to the way of life.
Read more about Separateness Not Superiority
The Spirit of Christ is within us and we are his body. We have Christ’s power to touch the unclean and make them clean.