March 9, 2017

March 9

March 9, 2017:  Thursday, 1st week, Lent

I too have moments of emptiness, spiritual dark moments when I've said, “Lord, I don’t understand.”  You can't grow without crises.  As biological growth is a crisis, so too faith.  Faith is a gift; you can't recover it on your own but need to ask God.  Sometimes you have to wait.
The “Third World War” is being waged piecemeal; look at the ongoing conflicts in Africa, Ukraine, Asia, Iraq, and elsewhere.  A 'messianism' lurks behind contemporary populism.
From the moment I was elected Pope I have never lost my peace.  I understand some may not like what I do, and I even justify it:  there are many ways of thinking; it's licit, human, and rich.  I pray with Thomas More for a sense of humor.

  • Est C:12, 14-16, 23-25  Queen Esther, in anguish:  “God, help me, an orphan; I'm taking my life in my hand.  Give me persuasive words, and turn the lion's heart, so that he and his co-conspirators may perish. Save us from our enemies; turn our mourning into gladness.”
  • Ps 138:1-3, 7-8  "Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me."  I'll praise you in the angels' presence.  God will complete what he's done for me.
  • Mt 7:7-12  Ask, seek, and knock.  All who ask receive; all who seek find; to all who knock the door will be opened.  Your Father will give good things to all who ask!  Do to others what you'd have them do to you.
    • Creighton:  As we pray today's psalm, we're asked to receive God’s gifts with humility and repentance.  How are humility and repentance related to turning our mourning into gladness?  Esther's prayer out of anguish and trust demonstrates humility.  She trusts God will deliver her and her people.  Like her, we know the stories of our forefathers in the faith and how they were given strength and courage.  When God answers us, it's to strengthen our faith, restore our confidence in him and in our salvation; he renews a right spirit within us.  Allowing ourselves to be changed takes humility and repentance.  In Old Testament anguish diaries, the faithful don't praise God for victory but rather for God's kindness and greatness.  But if God loves us more than we our own children, why can’t we love others like that?
      Queen Esther/ Long
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Praying on the edge":  Queen Esther's race was scheduled to be exterminated. The Jewish people were so weak, they couldn't stop the genocide.  Esther, on behalf of her people, prayed for help.  We too face tragedies and challenges, wondering what to do and whether we'll make it. The Lord is calling us to pray through our trials. "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit."  "Everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved."  Jesus can "save those who approach God through him, since he lives to intercede for them."  "Approach the throne of grace to receive mercy, favor, and help in time of need."
    • Passionist:  "The spiritual work of counsel":  Saturday night the Jewish Community begins Purim, celebrating how Queen Esther and her uncle reverse the plans of Haman against the Jewish people.  We hear Esther's fear, since to provoke the king could get her killed.  She feels alone and stands alone in faith before God, but she's intertwined with her people; her prayer for herself is also a prayer for her people.  When Esther shares her fear with her uncle, he offers her counsel:  “Who knows but that it was for a time like this that you became queen?”  Counsel is a spiritual work of mercy.  Jesus tells us to ask and seek.  We listen to the voices through which God speaks to us so we may hope and know what to ask for.  Sometimes we have the role of giving counsel; other times we may seek it.  When we feel alone, we can trust in God who hears us. We must seek, knock, and ask.  Counsel is important for us as we take up our cross and follow Christ. Lord, open our hearts to the Counsel you offer us through many voices.
      St. Frances of Rome giving alms/ Gaulli
    •  "Ask and your Father will give to you":  Esther's prayer is a model for us:  she prayed for help according to God's promise.  Jesus' parable of the father feeding his son illustrates how the Father give what's good, beyond our expectations, to those who ask.  "Prayer is an all-efficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine never exhausted,....  the root, fountain, and mother of a thousand blessings; it exceeds a monarch's power.  I speak of prayer from a mind outstretched, a contrite child, a converted soul.  Prayer has subdued fire, bridled lions, silenced anarchy, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, enlarged the gates of heaven, relieved diseases, averted frauds, rescued cities,...  Prayer has power to destroy whatever is at enmity with the good" (John Chrysostom)  Prayer flows from God's love, and our love for others is fueled by God's love poured into us through the Spirit.  Jesus reminds us we must treat our neighbor the way we'd like God to treat us; we must love them and seek their welfare....
    • Universalis:  St. Frances of Rome, married 40 years, had three sons, distributed gifts to the poor, ministered to the sick, founded convent she retired to as widow; known for humility, detachment, obedience, patience, contemplative spirit.  See also Wikipedia.
    Dress legend
    • 'Crown' tie bar:  Queen Esther (1st reading)
    • 'Lion' pin:  "Turn the lion's heart" (1st reading)
    • 'Hands' pin:  I'm taking my life in my hand; save us from our enemies' hand (1st reading); your right hand saves me; don't forsake the work of your hands (psalm)
    • 'Angel' pin:  In the sight of the angels I'll praise you (psalm)
    • 'Phone' tie bar:  When I called, you answered (psalm)
    • 'Stone' tie pin:  Who'd hand his son a stone... (gospel)
    • 'Wheat' pin:  ...when he asked for bread... (gospel)
    • 'Snake' tie pin:  ...or a snake... (gospel)
    • 'Fish' tie:  ...when he asked for a fish?  (gospel)
    • Purple shirt and suspenders:  Lenten season

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