Eighth Day of Lent   9 comments

A Roman Painting of a Door

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Esther 14:1-6, 12-14, a.k.a. C:12-17, 23-25 (New American Bible):

Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish, likewise had recourse to the Lord.  Taking off her splendid garments, she put on garments of distress and mourning.  In place of her precious ointments she covered her head with dirt and ashes.  She afflicted her body severely; all her festive adornments were put aside, and her hair was wholly disheveled.

Then she prayed to the Lord, the God of Israel, saying,

My Lord, our King, you alone are God.  Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life into my hand.  As a child I was wont to hear from the people of the land of my forefathers that you, O Lord, chose Israel from among all peoples, and our fathers from among all their ancestors, as a lasting heritage, and that you fulfilled all your promises to them.  But now we have sinned in your sight, and you have delivered us into the hands of our enemies….Be mindful of us, O Lord.  Manifest yourself in the time of our distress and give me courage, King of gods and Ruler of every power.  Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion, and turn his heart to hatred of our enemy, so that he and those in league with him may perish.  Save us by your power, and help me, who am alone and have no one but to you, O Lord.

Psalm 138 (New American Bible):

I thank you, LORD, with all my heart; before the gods to you I sing.

I bow low toward your holy temple; I praise your name for your fidelity and love.

For you have exalted over all your name and your promise.

When I cried out, you answered; you strengthened my spirit.

All the kings of the earth will praise you, LORD, when they hear the words of your mouth.

They will sing of the ways of the LORD:

How great is the glory of the LORD!

The LORD is on high, but cares for the lowly and knows the proud from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of dangers, you guard my life when my enemies rage.

You stretch out your hand; your right hand saves me.

The LORD is with me to the end.

LORD, your love endures forever.

Never forsake the work of your hands!

Matthew 7:7-12 (New American Bible):

[Jesus said,]

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 asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks 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.

The Collect:

Strengthen us, O Lord, by your grace, that in your might we may overcome all spiritual enemies, and with pure hearts serve you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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My first thought is that I cannot reconcile the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) with Esther’s prayer for divine retribution.  For that matter, I cannot reconcile the Golden Rule with petitions for divine retribution contained in the Psalms, although I understand the human desire for such outcomes.

Then again, I am not a Biblical literalist.

Today’s readings remind us that God cares for us during difficult times.  This does not guarantee that we will emerged unscathed, as every Christian martyrdom attests.  And what about the Holocaust?  About twelve million people died.  The problem of the existence of evil is a tricky issue for we monotheists.  Polytheists can blame certain deities for evil and let other gods off the hook.  Yet we who believe in one omniscient, omnipotent God must wrestle with this problem.

I offer no answers.  Indeed, I suspect that there are no good answers to this question in this life.  Although I have read books on the subject, no proposed answer works for me.  Yet this fact does not hinder my faith, for I have known the extravagant and saving grace of God.  I have been in the pit, as a psalmist wrote, and God has snatched me out of it.  This I know.  As for the rest, I want to learn those answers one day, in the next life, for I have an inquiring mind.

KRT

Written on February 21, 2010

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Posted October 27, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2020, Episcopal Church Lectionary, March 5

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