Ask and it will be given to you. (Matthew 7:7)


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Taken together, the theme of today’s readings is well summarized by the Psalm response: Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.

In the first reading we enter into an emotionally-gripping drama as we find Esther “seized with mortal anguish” lying on the floor “from morning until evening” pleading with God for help. Fear, desperation, and loneliness fill her voice as she implores God to “turn our mourning into gladness and our sorrows into wholeness.”

In today’s gospel we listen to a didactic lesson from Jesus as he teaches his disciples—in a certain and matter-of-fact tone—“For everyone who asks, receives.” He promises that God will answer our prayers if we but only ask. In Jesus’s analogies, God’s attentive care for his children seems commonsense and unquestionable. If our child is hungry, why would we give them an inedible stone?

Intimate relationships need to be built on the sure foundation of love and trust. If either of these elements is missing, we will have a crumbling edifice. This is especially true of our relationship with God. If it rests on fear or self-interest or any other motive it will never flourish.

Jesus had a hard time convincing us that God loves us and that his love can be trusted. He frequently used examples of how parent-child relationships work, and then would say, ‘Would you expect less from your heavenly Father?’ How many pious stories of divine retribution, punishment, hell and purgatory would be dashed to pieces if given this rocky test! Let us always treat others as we would have them treat us.

As we work our way through the first week of Lent this year, thinking how through prayer, fasting and almsgiving we can truly change, we are told today that we should ask, seek and knock. This was a wonderful opportunity for both Queen Esther and the psalmist in Psalm 138 — and they both received the help they needed. Through prayer, ask!

Our Lord Jesus is always waiting for us to ask, seek and knock. He wants us basically to stop being obsessed with our worldly lives and instead to seek the Holy Spirit to do God’s will.

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