Thursday of week 1 of Lent – First Reading


Commentary on Esth C 12, 14-16, 23-25

Esther, a Jewish woman and queen to King Assuerus (in Greek, Xerxes) of Persia, used her influence to avert a massacre of her people by the Persians. As she prepared to enter the presence of the king she made the prayer in today’s passage.

She prays to God to stretch his protecting hand over his people and to help her particularly in the task she has to do. She acknowledges her weakness and that, without God’s help, there is nothing she can do. But she, so to speak, reminds God of the promises he made long ago to his chosen people, chosen as a “lasting heritage”. It is a prayer of pure petition.

She knows that she and her people are totally in God’s hands. She does not threaten or try to manipulate God or bargain with him. She leaves the outcome entirely to him.

While we are encouraged by today’s Gospel to ask, to search, and to knock as a way of acknowledging our total dependence on God. At the same time, whatever we ask for, like Esther, we leave the outcome totally in his hands. As Jesus prayed in the Garden: ‘Father, not my will but yours be done.’

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*The text references vary from Bible to Bible. The Book of Esther consists of an original Hebrew text with a later (but pre-Christian) text in Greek added. Non-Catholic bibles tend to omit the Greek text as apocryphal. Today’s reading comes from a part of the Greek text.

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