Thursday, 25 February 2021 : 1st Week of Lent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all reminded of the power of God’s love and providence, and how fortunate we all truly are for having the Lord by our side, constantly loving us and providing for us, as He has also showed to all those who have been faithful to Him. And we only have to ask Him and seek Him for help, to put our trust in God and to have faith in Him and His providence.

In our first reading today, we heard of the prayer of Queen Esther of Persia asking for the Lord’s help and intervention for the sake of her people. Queen Esther herself was a Jew, and by the grace of God she was chosen out of many to be the Queen of Persia, then the mightiest power in the world. At that time, many of the descendants of the Israelites, the Jewish people, were scattered all across the lands of the Persian Empire, and some among them were living in the lands of the Persians, including Queen Esther and her relative, Mordechai.

Queen Esther sought God’s help because the enemies of the Jewish people, led by Haman the Agagite and his family plotted the downfall of the Jewish people, making use of Haman’s powerful position and connections, as well as the animosity and ill-feeling that many had against the Jewish people, as previous generations of Jews had been favoured by the rulers of Media and Persia, and therefore earned the ire and animosity of others. The prophet Daniel for example, had been challenged and encountered opposition from his enemies during his lifetime.

At that time, Haman and his plots managed to result in the king declaring solemnly in the irrevocable formal law of the land, for the destruction of the entire nation and people of the Israelite descent, for the Jewish people to be eradicated completely. And thus, the existence of the entire people of God was under dire threat at the time, and they had no one else to turn to but God. Mordechai, Queen Esther’s relative came to her asking for her help in the matter, and Esther therefore prepared herself to meet the king for the showdown.

Esther’s position was especially precarious because in doing so she would be disobeying her husband, the King. Her predecessor, Queen Vashti was deposed and exiled for precisely the same reason, for her refusal to obey the King and for acting contrary to the orders of the King. As she was not allowed to come to the King uninvited, to do so would be tantamount to her walking the same path as Queen Vashti, therefore risking her position, life and everything she had.

But Esther was ready to do it all for the Lord and for her people, and she asked for the courage, for strength and guidance to walk the path that she was about to take. And God did guide her and help her, with wisdom and strength, and the love that the King had for Esther prevailed, as together Esther and him managed to defeat and overturn Haman’s plots against the Jewish people, allowing the latter to fight back against all those who sought to destroy them.

As we can see here, and as reiterated clearly in our Gospel passage today, God truly is our loving Father Who cares for us and Who desires nothing else other than our own good. If only that we ask Him, seek Him and entrust ourselves to Him, then He shall give us what we need, He shall guide us and strengthen us with wisdom and proper guidance. Alas, many of us were often too impatient, or think that God does not listen to us simply because we thought that He did not grant us what we want and what we desire. But God gives what we truly need, and not what we wanted.

The question is, are we willing to trust the Lord and to entrust ourselves to Him? Are we willing to seek the Lord and to make the effort to find Him and to follow Him wherever He leads us to? Do we have the courage and the love of God, as well as the faith and dedication like that of Queen Esther? Esther has shown us all that if we trust the Lord and ask Him, He will surely provide for us, and we have nothing to fear at all. We may encounter challenges, trials and indeed, suffer a lot, but in the end, we shall be triumphant together with God.

Therefore, these days, as we navigate through the many challenges of life and the various trials we encounter in life, let us all renew our devotion to God, our faith and trust in Him. Let us all not be afraid to seek the Lord and ask Him for protection and guidance. And let us also trust Him when He leads us forth into the journey He has shown us. Let us all follow the Lord from now on and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to His path, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 25 February 2021 : 1st Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 7 : 7-12

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds; and the door will be opened to him who knocks.”

“Would any of you give a stone to your son, when he asks for bread? Or give him a snake, when he asks for a fish? As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?”

“So, do to others whatever you would that others do to you : there you have the Law and the Prophets.”

Thursday, 25 February 2021 : 1st Week of Lent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 137 : 1-2a, 2bcd-3, 7c-8

I thank You, o Lord, with all my heart, for You have heard the word of my lips. I sing Your praise in the presence of the gods. I bow down towards Your holy Temple and give thanks to Your Name.

For Your love and faithfulness, for Your word which exceeds everything. You answered me when I called; You restored my soul and made me strong.

With Your right hand You deliver me. How the Lord cares for me! Your kindness, o Lord, endures forever. Forsake not the work of Your hands.

Thursday, 25 February 2021 : 1st Week of Lent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Esther 4 : 17n, p-r, aa-bb, gg-hh (Latin Vulgate version – Esther 14 : 1, 3-5, 12-14)

Seized with anguish in her fear of death, Queen Esther likewise had recourse to the Lord. Then she prayed to the Lord God of Israel : “My Lord, You Who stand alone, came to my help; I am alone and have no help but You. Through my own choice I am endangering my life.”

“As a child I was wont to hear from the people of the land of my forebears that You, o Lord, chose Israel from among all peoples, and our fathers from among their ancestors to be Your lasting heritage; that You did for them, all that You have promised.”

“Remember us, Lord; reveal Yourself in the time of our calamity. Give me courage, King of gods and Master of all power. Make my words persuasive when I face the lion; turn his heart against our enemy, that the latter and his like may be brought to their end.”

“Save us by Your hand; help me who am alone and have none but You, o Lord.”