Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday word, 14 Feb 2008

Thursday, First Week of Lent (14 Feb 2008) Esther 12. 14-16,23-25; Ps 138; Mt 7. 7-12
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Measure of All Things

Reversals abound in scripture. Jacob and Esau: the younger Jacob won the blessing of their father instead of the elder Esau. Joseph and his brothers; David chosen king instead of his seven elder brothers. The ultimate reversal, to which all others point and which is the hinge of our faith, is Jesus resurrection from the dead. All the reversals share this: God took the initiative.

The story of Esther is yet another reversal. Esther was one of the Jews living in Persia at a time when its king planned to massacre all the Jews living in the Persian empire in a single day, chosen by lot. We heard her entreat God. The lot of destruction was reversed on the enemies of the Jews. This is the point of the Book of Esther, even though its plot is vindictive.

Jesus, of course, replaced vindictiveness with kindness and respect. These are possible because God is the measure of the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus proclaimed. Our efforts are to align with God as the measure of all human existence.

At the very least we can do to others whatever we would have them do to us. That, Jesus clarified, is the law and the prophets. Jesus encourages us to do more than the minimum, namely to cultivate one’s relationship with God.

Three actions summarize our role in our relationship with God: ask, seek and knock. Not only do these apply to requests for favors or help from God as I long thought. They apply to gaining deeper felt knowledge of our Creator and Redeemer. As St. Ignatius of Loyola expressed it, we are “to seek and find God in all things.”

Whatever our generous responses to other seekers might be, how much more will our heavenly Father respond to us! Lent conditions us to live more Christian lives. No matter how we develop and increase our faith, hope and love, God in Jesus by their Spirit finishes our faith, perfects our hope and encourages us to love in the prodigal manner God loves us.
Wiki-image of a scene from the story of Esther is in the public domain.

No comments: