March 9, 2017
Thursday, Lent Week One
The Responsorial (Psalm 138) is a testimony:
“O Lord, on the day I called for help you answered me!”
Esther chapter C (after chapter 4), verses 12, 14-16, 23-25 shows us what it means to live a lifestyle inexplicable to those who do not recognize the empowering presence of grace — the divine life of God — in us.
Esther laid it out before God: “I am alone and have no help but you.” Do you know people who are alone? Who really have no one to help them but God? Don’t you worry about them?
Sure: logically, saying this is like facing a mugger and saying, “I have no one to help me but a whole division of United State Marines.” If we have God, what else do we need? But that isn’t the way we see it when God is all we have.
It isn’t the way others see it either. To attempt something — anything — with no help available but God’s seems crazy. His help is good in theory, but in practice we don’t like to depend on it. So if we do attempt the impossible when we are “alone and have no help but God,” that bears witness to God’s life in us — even before we succeed.
Let’s don’t think in terms of business ventures and other unimportant projects whose outcome won’t make any difference to you a hundred years from now. Let’s talk about essentials. A temptation you are fighting that all your friends keep convoying you into. Ideals you hold that no one understands or agrees with; that you are not even sure you believe in. Values Jesus taught that just don’t seem to make sense to you. Times when neither your feelings nor your mind are much help to you in doing what nevertheless you know God wants you to do. Then can you join Esther in telling God, “I am alone and have no help but you”?
What if you are blocked from Confession because of something you “know you can’t stop?” What if the last priest you talked to was harsh and discouraging? What does it reveal about your faith if you keep trying? You may find yourself saying, “O Lord, on the day I called for help you answered me!”
As long as we have God’s promises we are not alone; they are comforting company. So are the stories of the way God “fulfilled his promises” to others. They are there in the Bible. Read them. The Liturgy of the Word invites us to do a little discipleship. Read how Esther’s story turned out.
In Matthew 7: 7-12 Jesus makes some promises. “Ask... Seek… Knock…. The one who asks receives, who seeks finds, who knocks enters.” Ask when you don’t know how it can be given to you. Seek when you don’t know how you can possibly find it. Keep knocking on a stone wall. The divine life of God in you reveals itself through faith in the midst of doubt, “hope that contradicts hope,” and “love that surpasses knowledge.” That makes you the “sign of Jonah.”
Initiative: Read Scripture. Learn how God helps those who trust him.