A woman of privilege is called upon to risk everything. Arguably, Esther could have ignored the plea to intercede on her people’s behalf. After all, she was already living in the palace, shielded from much of the danger that threatened her people.
Or, she could risk not only her good standing, but her life, and act. She chooses to act, to plead her people’s case, whatever the cost. To prepare herself she fasts and prays and she asks her people to fast and pray with her. The first reading is her prayer.
She brings before God, whom she has been taught to trust, all her needs. She speaks as a woman who understands her absolute dependence on God. She knows the political task before her and turns to God to give her the words she needs to make her case and save her people.
The past two years have sown doubt in the hearts of many, questioning whether or not we can truly approach God with what we need and expect a response. Today’s gospel reading makes no room for doubt. If we, who are wicked, know how to give good things, how much more will God, it asks. Of course, the passage does not say that you will get exactly what you ask for. The last word is not that God knows how to “give good gifts.” Instead it concludes with: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”
While the readings invite confidence in approaching God with our needs, might their invitation be for us to step into the breach, like Esther? Are they a call to bring our community’s needs to God and be assured that, if we discover that we are the answer to that need, God, who “gives good gifts,” will be with us?
- How are you being called to “step into the breach” during this Lenten season?
Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos is assistant to the president for mission integration at the University of Detroit Mercy. Her work as mission officer is informed by her training as a systematic theologian and spiritual director. She has been in Jesuit higher education for over three decades, with experiences at the Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines) and Seattle University before joining Detroit Mercy.