HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 1ST WEEK OF LENT.
BY: Benedict Agbo (Rev Fr)
* Esther 14: 1 – 14, Matt 7: 7 – 12.
Christ’s assurance in today’s gospel sounds lofty: EVERYONE WHO ASKS RECEIVES.. But is that really so? Don’t we see beggars who ask and don’t receive? The assurance is that every child of God that asks must receive depending on what God wants to give you. Fulton Sheen says that God’s answer can be YES, NO or WAIT! He makes everything work onto good for those who love him, Rom 8: 28.
Yesterday, we reflected on the 5 kinds of prayer resulting from an analysis of Our Lord’s prayer sample; 1. THE PRAYER OF PRAISE, 2. THE PRAYER OF SURRENDER, 3. THE PRAYER OF PETITION, 4. THE PRAYER OF FORGIVENESS & 5. THE PRAYER OF DELIVERANCE. Today, we need to go a little further to elaborate on THE PRAYER OF PETITION which is one of the most rampant prayers people embark on especially when they are in a troubled state. In today’s 1st reading, Queen Esther was seized with deathly anxiety, she blessed God in that situation, fasted and called upon God with confidence saying: ‘I have heard from the books of my ancestors (that is the scriptures) that you liberate those who are pleasing to you’. From today’s gospel, we get the full dossier of how and why the prayer of petition must work.
We need to understand when and how to ASK…SEEK …or KNOCK. We ask for that which we want/ need. We seek/ search for that which we have lost. We knock in order to get into a place that is locked. A bona fide child usually asks in the sight of his father. A prodigal son usually searches his way back to the palace of his father. Searching requires a different approach to prayer that may be more meditative than vocal. Some other time, we may need to knock when we perceive that the door of salvation seems to be locked. Example, we had lost our original innocence because of the fall of Adam. We were shut out of the kingdom of God by Adam’s fall (representing the entire sins of our forefathers). Praying from a spiritual distance is a terrible situation. Praying from a disadvantaged spiritual background or evil family root/ foundation can be quite nauseating. The prayer of the Canaanite woman is an example of such a prayer, Matt 15: 21 – 28. The answer doesn’t come as easy as expected until certain spiritual barriers are cleared. Queen Esther prayed from such a distance in today’s 1st reading. She did a lot of knocking before asking. In such a situation she had to fast because her people had sinned grievously and were being punished for their sins. According to St Peter Chrysologus, ‘What prayer knocks, fasting asks and almsgiving obtains’. Esther seized with terrible burden had to fast from 6 to 6 – morning to evening. She told God: ‘I have no helper but you’, Ps 121.
We need to understand the dynamics of prayer so well as to know when we should be knocking, searching or asking. God is not deaf. He is not difficult to find but sometimes, we could find ourselves, due to sin, at a very far distance. We need to know how to figure our way back to the region of grace. A theologian once said that salvation happens when God’s search for our soul coincides with ours. Lent is our time to up our game in our own search for God. May God bless you today!
FOR MORE HOMILIES CLICK >>>>>>