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Thursday, first week of Lent

February 25, 2010

Blessed Thursday!

Father, without You we can do nothing.
By Your Spirit help us to know what is right
and to be eager in doing Your will.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen. (Opening prayer from Mass)

Readings:
Esther C 12, 14-16, 23-25 (Esther’s prayer for help)
Psalm 138: 1-8 “Lord, on the day I called for help, You answered me”
+Matthew 7:7-12 (God gives good gifts to those who ask)

“Ask and you shall receive” (Matthew 7:7).

“You do not have, because you do not ask.” (James 4:2)

It’s true, God could supply all our needs without our asking. He knows them better than we do. He wants them to be met more than we do. Yet He restrains Himself. He waits for us to ask. Why?

He waits because He respects our human freedom too much to impose Himself on us, and we have not yet learned how much we need Him. He waits in order to uphold our human dignity by giving us a share in His divine work. He waits because He knows that unless we learn to use our spiritual muscles alongside of Him we will never grow strong and healthy. He waits so that He can bring from our human helplessness divine successes that far surpass anything we could ask or imagine. He waits because He wants to begin the communication with us that will lead to our growing to know and love Him (preparation for Heaven). In short, He waits because He loves us.

Queen Esther knew her helplessness. Her people, already in exile, were about to be exterminated. Only she could intercede for them, but the king had not called for her, and the penalty for intruding was death. No, without God, she could do nothing. Yet she knew the stories. God had chosen her people and had fulfilled His promises to them in the past. She turned to Him now and called all the Jews to turn with her, expecting nothing from herself, and everything from Him. She asked…and she received (see Matthew 7:7). She put her helplessness at God’s disposal and He worked mightily through her for the salvation of her people–and more importantly, for the conversion of the Persians. “And many of the peoples of the land embraced Judaism, for they were seized with a fear of the Jews” (Esther 8:17).

This is the dependence and the confidence that Jesus desires when He tells us to ask, seek and knock. He wants us to count on Him for everything, whether it seems as if we have everything under control (Reality check: “Without Me you can do nothing” -John 15:5) or whether it seems as though nobody could possibly pull the fat out of the fire (“with God, all things are possible” -Matthew 19:26). We can afford to be limited creatures because we depend on an unlimited God.

“For the one who asks, receives. The one who seeks, finds. The one who knocks, enters.” (Matthew 7:8)

Our Father has prepared the answers to our prayers. He’s eager to release them into our lives. He’s just waiting for us to ask…

Millions and millions of favors are hanging from heaven on silken cords, and prayer is the sword that cuts them. –Bishop Fulton Sheen

Prayerfully yours,

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