Thursday of the first week in Lent

On the day I called, you answered;
you increased the strength of my soul.
Psalm 137 [136]
 
. . .
 
Indeed. Strength of soul is what we require, what we seek, during Lent. Queen Esther sought it: her prayer for herself, in the passage set for Mass today, is for courage. She plans to intercede with the king on behalf or her people, but she trusts not in herself or even in the king. Her hope is in God alone; she implores God to save God’s people, to change the king’s heart. She offers herself as the means by which God might choose to do that.
 
And he does. God increases her strength of soul, God changes the king’s heart, and thereby saves his people.
 
So the deprecation of God that Jesus offers in the gospel reading for today describes the God who answered Esther’s prayer and awed the psalmist with constancy of his love and saving help. We can be of good hope that when we seek him–as we do during Lent–he will be found by us, and will give us what we most need: strength of soul, so that we can follow Jesus ever more nearly, and be formed ever more closely to his likeness.
 
And that is good news indeed.
 
Deo gratias.
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