As I write today, I am at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Soldotna. The image to the left hangs in the sanctuary of this parish church. As many of this readership already knows, I was ordained a priest on the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, June 27. This June will mark my 25th anniversary.
Over the years, I have looked to Our Blessed Mother to teach me about conversation with Our Lord. In this particular image, the young Jesus ran and jumped into her arms (depicted by the dangling shoe on one of his feet) as he begins to understand the final destiny of his life and ministry, his passion and death, which as we know ends ultimately in resurrection.
Just as Mary comforted Jesus, she is there to comfort and encourage us as we grow in our own understanding of God’s will for each of our lives.
In the readings from today’s Mass, we are given insights into a poignant and precarious moment in the life of Queen Esther, as she prays to God, and entrusts her life and mission into his hands. What an act of faith and trust!
Likewise in today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us the importance to go directly to God with our needs:
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. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7: 7-8)
We can only imagine the various moments of prayer in Mary and Joseph’s lives as they raised the young Jesus. We can likewise ponder the tone and content of her prayer as she accompanied her Son in his ministry, and especially during his passion and crucifixion.
Lent calls us to renew our own conversation with God in prayer, with the same kind of trust and faith as Mary and Queen Esther.
It seems the instruction of Jesus and the example of Queen Esther and our Blessed Mother are inviting us to not only make our needs known to God, but then to trust that God knows best how to answer our prayer. We are to have the self awareness that is capable of making heart-felt and humble petition, while at the same time being capable of moving past self-absorption to watch with expectation the mysterious ways in which God responds. And, yes, sometimes, with great patience complimented by confidence in God.
Such prayer and confidence in God allows us to put our needs in God’s hands, thus freeing us up to be even more attentive to the needs of others. This is why Jesus ends today’s instruction with the simple, yet universal rule that has come to be known as ‘golden:”
Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)