Scripture: Lectionary: Esther C:12:14-16,23-25. Psalm 138:1-2.2-3.7-8.
Jesus makes it quite simple today. We are being encouraged to pray and to
ask, to seek, and to knock while we do as a way of making sure we are in
tune with him. He tells us that we are “to treat others the way you have
them treat you.” Then he says to us, “this sums up the Law (Torah) and the
Prophets. That means we experience two thirds of the Hebrew Bible by
treating others as we would want to be treated. All we need to do is to
give it prayer and the wisdom so see this is the right way to live out our
lives. We add the wisdom and the prayer by the last part of the Hebrew
Scriptures. They call it the Writings and they include Job, the Psalms, and
Ecclesiastees. The Jewish people do not call these collections the Bible;
for them it is the Tanakh which means the Torah, the Prophets, and the
Writings. The anacronym thus includes Torah-Nabiim (prophets) and
Khutuvim, the writings.
The first part of our gospel for today is a follow up on yesterday where
Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer on the Sermon on the Mount. Now we are
told by Jesus to ask, to seek, and to knock–three components of our prayer
of intercession through Jesus. We are told tha we will receive if we ask,
we will find if we search, and we will have new doors opened for us if we
knock in prayer.
Our Psalm is a perfect prayer of thanksgiving for being able to pray as
Jesus wants us to pray. “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered
me…. When I called you remembered me, you built up strength within me.”
Thus we see that prayer is at the heart of all seasons but especially
during Lent. We learn from the prayer of Esther to trust in the mercy and
love of God when we pray in difficult circumstances that could even me
death for ourselves or for others. This section has been added in the
Greek version of Esther in such a way that it takes nothing away from the
original story in Hebrew, in fact, it enhances it. Esther gives us a great
insight into intercessory prayer and its powerful effect. And Jesus’ words
are even more powerful and focused on what devout and earnest prayer can
do. We are led to pray often during this Lent through the examples given
in the Scriptures for the day. They are God’s loving message for us and
God’s revelation for us. By returning to the prayers suggested by the
readings we enter into the heart of Lent. Prayer therefore is the heart of
Lent and our response to God in prayer is our heartbeat.
Jesus tells us, “Your heavenly Father gives good things to those who ask
him.” May our hearts beat in union with the words of Jesus who is our
merciful and compassionate Lord and Savior. Amen.