My church hosts small Eucharistic celebrations on week days. These intra-congregational gatherings follow a slightly altered version of the Western rite. I am one of several of the presiders who rotate responsibility. This has afforded me an opportunity to write many short homilies. These are brief and simple reflections on the texts of the day. This was the homily for today.
Thursday the First Week of Lent
Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25
Psalm 138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 7c-8
In our reading from Esther today, we overhear Esther’s prayer to God. She seems to confess that her knowledge of God is piecemeal. In a foreign land, all she can do is remember the stories that she heard as a child — stories of God’s deliverance. And so she calls out to God, because she has no where else to turn. In the face of an unimaginably difficult situation, she is forced to confess that she has no control. She can do nothing but ask God for help.
And God responds.
In our psalm we likewise hear of God’s answer to a call for help. We are told that on the very day in which our psalmist calls our for help, God answers.
Is asking God for help selfish or presumptuous? In so doing are we not approaching a transcendent and wholly other God with our petty wants and needs? Who are we to ask him to help us out of the mire that we are responsible for being stuck in? Who are we to receive mercy from the Lord?
Yet Jesus commends this posture of asking to us. We are to turn to God and ask, because God is our Father who is eagerly waiting to give good gifts to those who ask.
That is why we are here. To ask. We are not here to will Christ’s presence into the bread. We are not here to listen to the poetry of the liturgy. We are not here to construct something upon which to rejoice.
We are here because we trust in the words of Jesus. That our gathering, our quieting, our praying will arise to heaven as asking, seeking and knocking.
We are here because when we ask for Christ to be present in the Bread and wine we believe that we are not given a stone or a snake, but Christ himself.
Let us turn now to our faithful God and ask for help.