Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

(Esther C:12.14-16.23-25; Matthew 7:7-12)

Rabbi’s Harold Kushner best-seller When Bad Things Happen to Good People pictures an almost anemic God who helps people by inspiring them to work together. Prayer to such a deity gives one occasion to think about what must be done to improve the situation herself. But any hope that It can somehow modify the situation beyond the process of human will and chance is wish-making. Is there any way to reconcile such thinking to the Scripture readings today?

Jesus assures his disciples in the gospel that God listens to the prayers of His people like an indulgent father, the pleas of his children. Queen Esther in the Old Testament selection demonstrates the proper attitude as she throws herself to the ground in supplication before the Lord. In both cases God is considered as the real cause of change. He can be counted on for assistance.

“Then why are not all prayers answered?” some will want to retort. This is an earnest question which Pope Benedict in his recent letter introducing the Holy Year of Faith recognizes as “God’s silence.” Its answer is steeped in tradition although may not satisfy everyone. In the end we must stand before the mystery of God in faith. Just as He has been actively present to us countless time, He can withhold any cognizable response. Still we can be sure that He has heard our plea and will act on our behalf although when and how may not be forthcoming.