Desperate Times Call for Desperate Prayers
This morning’s homily discusses the first reading, a prime example of God’s providence. Going Behind the Word explores the story of Queen Esther.
Going Behind the Word
Who was Queen Esther? She is one of the most interesting women in the bible, and one of the more interesting stories of how the providence of God works. It is also a story that underscores a family circumstance that was not ideal.
Esther was raised by her cousin Mordecai, who took over care for Esther when her parents died. What is clear is that the practice of the Jewish faith was an important one for her upbringing. As for Mordecai, not only does he raise her, but remains a trusted relative and father figure for the rest of her life.
Esther becomes the queen after a banquet where the King, Ahasuerus becomes drunk. When he asks his wife, Queen Vashti, to come out and be paraded before the guests she refuses, which causes Ahasuerus to divorce her.
His solution to finding a new queen is to seek virgins from the country, in a type of beauty pageant from which Esther becomes queen. Not only is she chosen as the queen, she becomes more important when she reveals to the king a plot to assassinate him, overheard by Mordecai.
As with any good story of intrigue, however, there is a character who emerges who is not so fond of the Jews. When Mordecai refuses to bow down to Haman, a chief assistant to the king, Haman convinces the king not only to kill Mordecai but all the Jews.
This is the moment when the providence of God becomes more apparent. With the decree forcing conversion or causing death, Mordecai approaches Esther in penance encouraging her to speak to the king. He even tells her that this may be the very reason that God put Esther in this situation.
Queen Esther uses her role and influence to ultimately expose Haman’s plot, and his real dislike of Mordecai. As the king is reminded of how it was that Mordecai saved his life, it spells doom for Haman and the royal treatment for Esther and Mordecai.
The story reminds us of the importance of God’s role in our lives. Even though it is not always possible to know why everything happens, in faith we believe that God is always present and can bring goodness from any circumstance and situation.
The story of Queen Esther begins a theme carried out in all the readings for today. The response to the psalm, “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me” is a reminder of this very message.
The gospel reminds us that even, and maybe especially when we are desperate, God’s love for us is far greater than our love for each other. Just as a parent instinctively provides their children with those things they need, much more does God provide all of us with those things we need.
The actions of the gospel are to ask, to seek and to knock. And in the story of Queen Esther we see that she does all of these things. Because of her faith the presence of God, and the way in which she has trusted in God, and continues to trust in God, there is the ultimate reward for fidelity.
In considering the story of Queen Esther we are reminded just how much God knows what is best for us. We also know that if we remain close to Him we will come to realize we are never alone.