Homily March 2nd, 2023

Thursday of the First Week of Lent – Mt 7:7-12

Today’s first reading gives us an illustration of what the Gospel speaks about. Alone and in a seemingly helpless situation, Esther prays to God with one of the most beautiful prayers of the Old Testament,[1] reminding Him that “as a child I used to hear from the books of my forefathers that you, O LORD, always free those who are pleasing to you. Now help me, who am alone and have no one but you, O LORD, my God.” Prayer leads us to ask for what we need from the One whom we know can provide it. Notice that Esther says that God “always frees those who are pleasing to Him.” It’s categorical; He always takes care of those in need, freeing them from whatever it is that oppresses them. However, we must sometimes remind ourselves that the greatest need we have is to get to heaven, and to be free from the oppression of sin. We are in need to His grace to get there, and that is really what everything is this life is directed towards.

In the Gospel, Jesus presents a very compelling image of God the Father’s generosity. “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. . . .  If you . . . know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” These words should be a great source of encouragement for us, and for two reasons:

First, because they mean that God always hears our prayers and always answers them. It’s the same, categorical nature that we heard in the first reading. There’s no such thing as an “unanswered prayer.” We ask, and we receive. We seek, and we find. We knock, and the door is opened. This doesn’t mean that we always get exactly what we asked for, since, as we mentioned, the ultimate goal of life here on earth is to get it heaven. Sometimes we don’t get what we asked for, and, at those times, we get something even better. It also doesn’t specify the time in which these things are given, but, as a priest friend would remind me, “God is never early, and God is never late. He is always exactly on time.”

Secondly, these words encourage us because they tell us to ask great things from God. As Saint Teresa of Jesus wrote, “You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.” “You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.” Sometimes we limit God by only asking Him for small things. A heart that trusts little, asks for little, and so receives little. The heart that trusts a great deal, asks for much, and receives much. We can ask ourselves: how much do we trust in God? Enough to ask Him for the great things that we need?

Today, let us ask, through the intercession of Mary, Model of Prayer, for the grace to re-kindle our lives of prayer, especially during this Lenten season, knowing the importance it has for our lives, and that we have a generous Father who wants to give us what we need in this life in order to be with Him forever in the next.


[1] In my opinion, anyways.

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