Homily for Thursday of the 1st Week of Lent Year A
By: Fr. Ben Agbo
Homily for Thursday March 5 2020
* 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? I think the assurance is that every child of God that asks must receive an answer 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.
From our analysis of Our Lord’s prayer sample yesterday, we underlined the following 5 kinds of prayer : Praise, Surrender, Petition, Forgiveness and Deliverance. Today, we need to reflect further 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 in trouble. And from today’s gospel, we get a 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 presence 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 times, we may need to knock when we perceive that the door of salvation seems to be locked against us.
For 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 a terrible burden, had to fast from 6 to 6 ( from 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, too distant from the “region of grace”. (Words of Late Fr Prof Emmanuel Ifesie). A theologian once said that ‘salvation happens when God’s search for us coincides with our search for him’. Lent is our time to up our game in this search for God.
May God bless you today!