Scripture: Lectionary 228, Feb.21. Esther (C) 12:14-16,23-25. Psalm 138:1-2.2-3.7-8. Matthew 7:7-12:
Prayer is one of the three great practices of Lent; fasting and almsgiving are the other two that accompany it. They are given to us through Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. They are common to both Judaism and Islam.
Our liturgical daily readings keep reminding us of these three. Today all of the readings, including the Psalm and its response, are centered on prayer. In Esther we see one who is absolutely dependent on God as one of the ‘Anawim in a foreign land where Ahasuerus is king. He is symbolized as a lion and if he does not listen to Esther’s plea, her people will be persecuted and put to death. God listens to her plea and Israel is saved and she becomes queen. The book is celebrated during the Feast of Purim.
Our Psalm is one in which another poor one of God cries out for help. “When I called, you answered me; you built up strength within me.” The verses are centered on prayer within the Temple of Jerusalem. Throughout this Psalm God is called upon seven times and thanksgiving is rendered to God; covenantal love and fidelity from the Lord toward Israel is emphasized.
Matthew gives us the clarion living voice of Jesus telling us to keep praying by asking, searching, and knocking on the doors of heaven. This is a summons for us to pray confidently. Jesus promises to answer the prayer in a way that may surprise us—always according to the will of his Heavenly Father. God gives good things to those who ask, seek, and knock.
Prayer is the heart of Lent. It motivates us to fast and to be generous in new ways that reach out to our neighbor. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.