1st Week of Lent, Thursday, Feb 25
Esther 4:10-12,17-19 / Matthew 7:7-12
Jesus talks about prayer; ' 'Ask and it will be given to you. "
Catherine Marshall recommended keeping a list of your special prayer requests— along with the date of each request. A woman did this and was surprised at the way some requests were answered. For example, one was answered by a change of attitude toward a situation, rather than by a removal of the situation. In other words, many of our prayers are answered in a way totally different from what we had in mind when we made the request.
The point is that many prayers are answered, but in a way so different from what we expected that we often fail to recognize the answer. What kind of faith do we have in Jesus' promise, "Ask and it will be given to you"? Our prayers are often answered not in the way we thought they should be, but in the way a loving Father saw fit.
Prayer discloses all the riches of God’s goodness to us. God cannot resist us when we turn to him in our misery, in our needs, in our joy, even in our silence when we don’t know what to say. But the reason for his generosity is not so much that we ask him, but that he is good. Others, even a father or a mother, may give because the person who asks insists. God gives because he is good. He is glad to give. He gives with joy. And he gives always more than is asked.
It is really intriguing how we can
often evade the truth and the reality. For eg., we may have heard of cases
about other people, or even of ourselves, of how we manage to side-step the
reality of the situation. We may have a peculiar physical pain and yet we try
to self-medicate and to numb it, only to be afflicted later with a serious
illness. We may laugh at the ostrich for burying its head in the sand to avoid
facing the reality and the truth. But are we not often like that? We don't want
to look, hear or know.
In the 1st reading, Queen Esther could have just ignored the impending annihilation of her people and just cared about her own survival. But she knew that to do such a treacherous deed would be to deny her faith and reject any possibility of God's intervention. Also, to do that would bring about disastrous consequences for her.
In the gospel, Jesus challenges us to question and to search for the meaning of our lives, as well as to examine our lives. To have no questions about our lives and about our faith may mean that we might be like an ostrich who does not want to see the reality and the truth of our lives. Yet God will always be asking us about our lives. He will be searching for us when we are lost. He will be knocking on the door of our hearts waiting for us to open to Him. Let us pull our heads and our hearts out of the sand and look at God and hear His voice.
1. Promises: “Everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:8). Although these words of Christ seem so simple and straightforward, to receive the promised reward we must live as Christ did, and align our will with his. Christ lived a life of self-denial even before he carried the physical cross. He bore a heavy load by living his life for others. We are also called to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily to follow him (Luke 9:23). Luke includes the word “daily” in his Gospel. We can’t pick up the cross or deny ourselves when it is convenient. We are to do this daily. St. Therese of Lisieux taught us how to do this in her Little Way. She counsels that we are to do our daily tasks with great love, thereby meeting and carrying the cross in the midst of our ordinary life.
2. Good Gifts: Do we unwittingly ask the Lord for stones and snakes and then grumble because he hasn’t answered our prayer as we wanted? Our vision is often very limited. Eternity is not in the forefront of our minds. We may pray for help with the bills but neglect a God-given opportunity to practice prudence. We may ask God for physical healing, unaware that our illness is “curing” us spiritually. It is not wrong to ask God for help with whatever we think we need. God wants us to include him in everything that’s on our minds. Yet, it is important to remember that God gives good gifts, gifts of lasting value. He wills for our good and desires eternal union with us. God is concerned with our ultimate salvation.
3. The Golden Rule: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). Christ trusted the Father. He was not afraid of being left out, of being left behind, or not having his fill of good things. When we trust God, the Golden Rule feels attainable. Knowing that we are loved, we are able to deny ourselves and live for others. Jesus preached the Golden Rule and he lived it with divine perfection. We are called to do likewise, by relying on the Lord’s grace and strength.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, you are the giver of all good things. Sometimes I get caught up in this world, becoming attached to its goods and forgetting that you give gifts of infinite value. Lord, please help me to seek what is truly valuable. I desire to belong completely to you. Please, continue to draw me near.
Lord, our God, you are a generous Father, who give us what is good for us simply because you love us. Give us grateful hearts, Lord, that we may learn from you to give and share without calculation but simply with love and joy, as Jesus did among us, your Son, who lives with you and with us for ever. Amen