Thursday in the 1st Week of Lent, February 25, 2021

Prayer discloses all the riches of God’s goodness to us. God cannot resist us when we turn to him in our misery, in our needs, in our joy, even in our silence when we don’t know what to say. But the reason for his generosity is not so much that we ask him, but that he is good. Others, even a father or a mother, may give because the person who asks insists. God gives because he is good. He is glad to give. He gives with joy. And he gives always more than is asked.
Opening Prayer
Lord, our God,
you are a generous Father,
who give us what is good for us
simply because you love us.
Give us grateful hearts, Lord,
that we may learn from you
to give and share without calculation
but simply with love and joy,
as Jesus did among us, your Son,
who lives with you and with us for ever. Amen!
1 Reading: Esther C: 12, 14-16, 23-25
Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish, had recourse to the LORD. She lay prostrate upon the ground, together with her handmaids, from morning until evening, and said: “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are you. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hand. 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. “And now, come to help me, an orphan. Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion and turn his heart to hatred for our enemy, so that he and those who are in league with him may perish. Save us from the hand of our enemies; turn our mourning into gladness and our sorrows into wholeness.”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 7c-8
R. (3a) Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple
and give thanks to your name. R.
Because of your kindness and your truth;
for you have made great above all things
your name and your promise.
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me. R.
Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands. R.
Gospel Acclamation: Psalm 51:12a,14a
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
A clean heart create for me, O God;
give me back the joy of your salvation.
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
Gospel: Matthew 7:7-12
Jesus said to his disciples: “Ask and it will be given to you; 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. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.”
Today’s scriptures highlight the prayer of petition. In the reading about Queen Esther, a Hebrew in a Persian court, the stage is set for the extinction of the Jewish people. She turns to God in an ardent prayer for help. As the story unfolds, her prayer is heard. This liberation of the people from the threat of death is celebrated annually in the Jewish feast of Purim.
Of the four forms of prayer—adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and petition—it was once said that petition is the least noble since it centers so much on the petitioner. This is hard to accept in view of the great praise given this form of praise by Christ himself. In the New Testament, it is repeatedly given high commendation. The reason for this is that it is an expression of a key Christian virtue, the spirit of dependence on God, and our bringing our requests before God is wholly consonant with that spirit.
Christ says today that God’s attitude toward us is that of a loving father. If a son asks for bread he will not be given a stone, or for a fish and he will not be given a serpent. We are encouraged to bring our needs before the Lord; we will not be given a deaf ear.
It often happens in life that when faced with a critical situation, God becomes an afterthought. We turn initially in different directions for help. But we must be honest. If God is first in our life, then he doesn’t stand at the end of the line. In the course of human events, we first ask, then we seek, and finally knock to receive a response. This implies a certain perseverance. It all begins with conviction, the conviction that we are loved. If so, then we will certainly not be forgotten.
• That the Church may play wholeheartedly its role of interceding by making the needs of all people its own, we pray:
• That the people of God may pray not only when they are in trouble and need but also to express their admiration, praise and joy, we pray:
• That those who do not know to whom to turn to in their miseries may find the Lord in people who are good and compassionate to them, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Good Father in heaven,
give us now the bread of life:
give us your Son, Jesus Christ.
May he stay with us
to make us generous givers
who do not put price tags on our gifts.
May we do what he did,
not to give gifts but ourselves,
that people may come to know you
as the loving Father of all,
now and for ever. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
God, Father of all,
more loving and good than any mother,
we have no one but you
and your Son among us
to see our needs even before we can voice them.
Hear our prayer, Lord,
for generosity and love,
for openness to you and to everyone,
that we may hear the cries of others
as you hear our prayers
through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
Our Lord assures us today: “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.” May we all be people who trust in prayer, and may Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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