The First Thursday of Lent
(Esther C: 12, 14 – 16, 23 – 25; Ps 138; Matthew 7: 7 – 12)
Chapter 11 of the Letter to the Hebrews begins: “Faith is conﬁdent assurance concerning what we hope for and conviction about things we do not see.” There are things we do not see with our physical eyes but can see with the eyes of the heart, eyes of faith. In the most terrible, painful, devastating happenings, not denying those realities, one can see, be convinced of, some hidden good without knowing what that good might come to be – in fact, often surprised when it ultimately comes to light – of course, it does involve listening and then acceptance on our part and that might take time.
Queen Esther knew that there were plans to annihilate her Jewish people and so she and her handmaids prayed, “Save us from the hand of our enemies; turn our mourning into gladness and our sorrows into wholeness.” In that petition no despair, no futility is expressed, only trust and belief in God’s goodness. He has the power to give life, to grant light and peace without necessarily changing the circumstances. Esther believed it and made it her prayer.
Isn’t this what happened at Calvary? First, there was His horrendous, inhuman death – the grief of His mother and those with her – the confusion of His disciples and then there was the incomprehensible joy of His Resurrection and appearances. From the evil victory of His enemies, from the darkness of His death came Light, unconquerable Light – Our Lord Jesus Christ – The Resurrection and the Life!”
Jesus tells us: “Ask and it will be given to you, seek, knock”…for you will receive, will ﬁnd and the door will be opened. The loss, the pain, the sorrow might remain and often does but there can be the gift of inner peace, of a deeper faith, a discovery of hope, of love, a healing of woundedness, even of gratitude – the gifts are miracles of grace that do happen and countless people can witness to these. For the conviction to look deeper is our faith life.
In the Book of Sirach, the author shares his wisdom: “Wait on God with patience, cling to Him…Accept whatever befalls you, when sorrowful be steadfast, in crushing misfortune be patient…Trust God and God will help you; trust in Him!
(Sirach 2: 1 – 11)