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Posts Tagged ‘Esther’


Esther 7 & 8: Deceit and Retribution

Monday, August 5, 2019

Millais: Esther

We have no way of knowing what plans are schemed against us.  We have no method of seeing into the private places where the covetous lie on couches to weave their plots that entangle others.  We can be certain, however, that when the faithful find themselves the victims of these plots – as the Jews do in the story of Esther – that God will redeem his people, will release them from oppression, and will decide how the connivers are to be judged.

In the story of Mordecai and Esther, Haman becomes jealous because Mordecai does not play the game of courtier as Haman would wish, yet has influence and prestige – which Haman covets.  Rather than find union with Mordecai, Haman builds a gibbet on which to hang his perceived enemies . . . only to see his family executed . . . and himself led to the scaffold on which he had meant to exterminate the Jew he so hated.

For several weeks we have been reflecting on honesty versus deceit . . . and today we find another clear lesson of what is expected by God of his faithful.  Earlier in Chapter 4 when Esther tells her uncle that she is afraid to go to the king to tell him of Haman’s plot, Mordecai reminds her that the faithful must do as God bids . . . for if they do not, God will find another willing to do the work.  Then Mordecai reminds his niece of the fate she will suffer if she goes against God’s will (4:14).

So when we read these later chapters . . . and when we spend time praying, meditating and reflecting on God’s word to us . . . we know that we, too, hear the words of Mordecai, we also feel the tremors which Esther felt when she saw a task looming before her that was too great to bear.  It will serve us well to read this story from beginning to end, including the later insertions, and to ponder God’s plan for us as we move through our days.

We need not worry about plots schemed against us; nor do we need to create a plan of reprisal.  We only need to be constant to God each day, to maintain our covenant, to lay all problems at God’s feet for resolution.  For this is the only way we will find peace amid the noise of the world.  This is the only path to a serenity that lasts and sustains.  This is the only true Way in which to live the gift of Life.


Written on June 15, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://thingselemental.com/2012/03/cultivating-beauty/

For another reflection on this story, go to the Esther – From Calamity to Rejoicing page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/esther-from-calamity-to-rejoicing/

For more information on Queen Esther and her story, go to: http://thingselemental.com/2012/03/cultivating-beauty/

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Esther 5:9-14: Retribution

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Esther

I love this story for its crystalline message: The measure that we measure with is measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38).  We need to hear this story today because lately we have been reflecting on convolutions and betrayals big and small, on expiatory sacrifices, on our complaints, on making a proper response to the call we hear from God, and on forming the alliances we will need to see us through our journey in this life.  All of these themes are present in the story of Esther . . . and they can weigh heavily on us in this season when we want to participate in Easter joy.

Often we are exhausted from the many lessons of discipleship which we must learn.  Often we grow weary of hearing the message that only God can pass judgment and exact retribution.  Often we spend ourselves down to the bottom of our resources keeping up with both listening for the call and by managing our human desire to ask for revenge.  Often our personal well runs dry after we drink from it more times than we replenish it.

Today offers us an opportunity to fill the well, to re-stock the granary, to rest a bit and to recoup.  There are many psalms and stories in scripture in which humans petition retribution and violent revenge on their enemies who appear to skate through life unscathed by the wreckage they leave in their wake.  What today’s story tells us is this:  These enemies drown in their own wake. 

Yes, we reply, we hear this . . . but when will we see it . . . and why does it happen . . . and how do we survive?

We can never visit this story often enough.  We help ourselves if we read it several times a year because it has so much to offer and speaks to the basic human desire to judge and to enact our own retribution.  Various Bibles order the inserts differently and the introductory commentary and the accompanying footnotes will explain the reasons for the jumbled structure of this book which ought to be important to each of.  It is through this story that we are reminded of how our enemies fall.  It is through this story that we remember that we doom ourselves by not answering the call we hear.  It is through this story that we can assure ourselves that our reward will be certain, definite . . . and will flow from our own hands.  It is also from this story we learn that our own actions wash back on us if we enter into the world of envy, fear, obsession and hate.

Rembrandt: Haman Begging the Mercy of Esther

Today we read about how Haman is content and happy with the plot he is weaving.  We see how he flatters himself and gets lost in his own distorted view of life.  We cannot miss how Haman’s friends and wife misdirect him.  These are such important lessons for us to read.  We cannot hear them enough.  These are lessons we must see and live because . . . in the living of these events, we become more like God.  We respond to the call of our potential.  We enter Christ’s Mystical Body.  This is how we survive.

And so we pray:  Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we are weary from learning the lessons of life: Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we tire from seeking and waiting and searching: Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we become lost in the webs we and others weave: Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

When we are exhausted from living on the edge:  Help us to see, help us to live, O God.

Amen. 


A re-post from May 21, 2012 .

Images from: http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/rembrandt/haman-begging-esther-for-mercy and http://christianrep.com/blog/2010/08/08/let-your-life-speak/

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Acts 13:44-52Address to the Gentiles

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Yesterday we reflected on Paul’s Summary story of God’s constancy in his love for his people.    God keeps his promises.  God has good things in mind for his creation.  God loves us more than we can imagine.

We first spent time with this portion of Acts on May 29, 2008 and we revisit that reflection today as a Favorite . . .

Because many of those Paul addressed in the synagogue refused to hear the story of Jesus, Paul took his message to the gentile nations.  Many have ears but do not hear, eyes but do not see.  I am thinking about how we humans form community . . . and how we also create obstacles to the formation of community.  We conjure up sides, form alliances, close ranks and lock steps to keep out those who do not comply.  We have the choice in this life to follow Mean Girl Queens and Playground Bullies which ultimately means that we must succumb to threats and insinuations.  We also have the option to stand on Gospel Values . . . which means that we must work to become constant disciples of Jesus.  And it also means that we must put down our old familiar weapons of separation to take up the arms of unity and peace.

The prophecy of Daniel and the story of Esther are worth remembering because they are where we learn that . . . the faithful need not fight, they only need to refuse to comply with anything which causes them to abandon their God.  This is the same message that Jesus brings to us; this is how the kingdom becomes universal.  This is how the Spirit abides and how the Gospel message spreads – through conflict resolved, through obstacles overcome, through pain endured, through reparations made and forgiveness granted.  Where do we go for solace and comfort when we must squeeze ourselves through these Narrow Gate ExperiencesHow do we mature spiritually?  How do we find and maintain the serenity we say we seek? Paul tells this in Pisidia who will hear him, and he tells us today . . .

When we suffer for Christ, we know that we have been chosen . . . we also know that we are loved.

When we live in the Spirit, we know that we live in God . . . and we also know that we live in love.

When we call on God, we know that we are heard . . . and we also know that we are rescued.

I am looking at the morning prayers and petitions from MAGNIFICAT.

The eyes of the Lord are upon those who love him; he is their mighty shield and strong support, a shelter from the heat, a shade from the noonday sun, a guard against stumbling, a help against falling.  (Sirach 34:16)

You are a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in distress; shelter from the rain, shade from the heat. (Isaiah 25:4)

With confidence in the God who hears our prayers and protects us, let us pray:  To our words give ear, O Lord.

You shield us from harm: teach us to protect goodness in ourselves and in others.  To our words give ear, O Lord.

You guard us against stumbling and help us against falling: strengthen our reliance on you in every temptation.  To our words give ear, O Lord.

You are the shelter of all those who are in need: make us a shelter to all who call upon our help. To our words give ear, O Lord.

O God of glory, you are our shelter against the burning heat of the day and the storms of life.  Help us when we stumble, catch us when we fall, and guide our steps firmly in faith toward the promise of eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


A re-post from January 8, 2012.

Images from: http://www.davincisartandcoffee.com/Metal/cross/Heart/default.asp and http://northwaystudents.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/wide-gate-vs-narrow-gate/ 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 29.5 (2008): 392-393. Print.  

For a reflection on the Book of Daniel on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/daniel-god-calls-the-faithful-and-faithless/

For thoughts on Esther see: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/esther-from-calamity-to-rejoicing/

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Esther 1The Race of the Just

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Like Mordecai, the faithful will have a sense of impending doom.  Like Mordecai, they will discover plots against power.  Like Mordecai, the just are rewarded for their fidelity and courage.  It will be this very reward that puts them in danger; yet they be saved from destruction, tribulation and distress.  And there will always be Haman lurking behind the curtain . . . hoping to destroy the just.  When we act in and for God, we must anticipate jealousy and envy.  And we must rely on God alone to save us from annihilation.

Mordecai receives information in a dream and although he trusts this information he does not understand its deeper meaning and its long-range implication.  And so he kept it mind, and tried in every way, until night, to understand its meaning.  I am wondering how much energy we put into understanding a message we receive darkly.  I am thinking that Mordecai shows us how to remain in and with God despite intense, justified fear.

Yesterday’s Gospel also has something to teach us about fear and the race of the just.  Jesus sends out seventy-two of his disciples and instructs them: The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so . . . go on your way: behold, I am sending you like lambs among the wolves.  Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.  Into whatever house you enter, say first, ‘Peace to this household.’  If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you”.  (Luke 10:1-9)

Jesus also sends us into the fields as laborers.  We are also sheep among wolves as was Mordecai.  I believe that we cannot stop evil, but I also believe that when we remain in and with God, we are protected in his strength and guided out of harm’s way.  We are loved beyond measure and we must learn to trust this love.  We must learn to give over to God the clawing fear that grabs at us when we feel alone in a hostile world.  We must remember to lay our turmoil in God’s capable hands when there is tribulation and distress, evil and great confusion.  We must carry our burdens – whether they be light or heavy, small or great – to the one who knows all and to the only one who can confront and even annihilate evil.

The psalmist says in Psalm 27: The Lord is my light and my help; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; before whom shall I shrink?  When evil-doers draw near to devour my flesh, it is they, my enemies and foes, who stumble and fall.  Though an enemy encamp against me even then would I trust.  It is your face, O Lord, I seek; hide not your face . . .

God has shown us his face and it is the face of Jesus.

God has rescued his people and he abides among them.

God has brought us into his eternal Spirit and he dwells within us.

The race of the just will always be saved.  Let us gather ourselves – we the lambs among wolves – and go quickly and surely to the only sanctuary there is that can withstand the darkness of evil.  Let us run to greet the newness we are granted by the one who loves us so well.  Let us find refuge in the power and presence of the one who will always save the race of the just.


A re-post from October 19, 2011.

Image from: http://bibletodaykids.com/Esther.html

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Esther 7: The Persecutor

Giovanni Andrea Sirani: Esther Before Ahasuerus

Saturday, February 17, 2018 

Yesterday we assessed the narcissism we might discover in ourselves and how unilateral listening governs our world circumstances. Today we reflect on how Esther and Mordecai operate in their world – and what we might learn from them.

It is clear that Haman is consumed by envy of Mordecai and while we cannot analyze this character from a Biblical story, we can certainly learn from his actions. It is also clear that Esther – as a woman but especially as a Jewish woman in a non-Jewish court – fears for her life, and the life of her nation. The kingdom of Xerxes is an ancient one in which individual rights are denied to most. We might believe that we as a species have evolved and it is true that in general, we have. However, many peoples in our modern society have no benefit of personal rights. When this happens, we might speculate, it is often the result of someone, or some group, behaving in a narcissistic manner. Navigating these troubling conditions is difficult at best. What does the story of Esther have to tell us?

Queen Esther answered, “If it please Your Majesty to grant my humble request, my wish is that I may live and that my people may live”.

Humility is usually an ineffective tool against brutality; it seems to encourage even more violence. Yet, here we see that despite her humble behavior and words, Esther acts in order to save a people.

“If you keep quiet at a time like this, help will come from heaven to the Jews, and they will be saved, but you will die and your father’s family will come to an end. Yet who knows—maybe it was for a time like this that you were made queen!” (Esther 4:14)

On Ash Wednesday when we explored Chapter 4, we considered Martin Neimöller’s advice that if we do not speak against evil and injustice, we guarantee not our safety, but our sure demise. Despite their fear, Esther and Mordecai form a solidarity of two as they begin a quiet, patient assertion of justice and truth.

An article from Psychology Today gives us guidelines to manage the effects of narcissism. These experts advise that we evaluate both our surroundings and the narcissist to look for context, that we maintain a firm sense of purpose along with a sense of humor, and that we remain realistic about how much we can accomplish when working with the self-centered. If we are in dangerous surroundings, controlled by a persecutor as Esther and Mordecai are, we begin by turning to God and finding others with whom to form solidarity. We move forward with patience, reliance on the Creator, persisting in hope, and acting in mercy.

Tomorrow, fighting back.

When we read varying translations of this story by using the scripture link and the drop-down menus, we find an opportunity to transform a world beset by narcissism.

For more advice, read the August 14, 2014 post “Eight Ways to Handle a Narcissist”. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201408/8-ways-handle-narcissist

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Esther 5: Building the Gallows

Queen Esther

Thursday, February 15, 2018

We must take care to observe what schemes we enter, knowingly or unknowingly. In today’s reflection, a parade of characters brings us an invitation to explore our own motivations and actions.

Queen Esther waits beyond the throne room, knowing that entrance without permission results in death. Does she know that she will need more courage than she believes she possesses?

King Xerxes offers half his kingdom in a magnanimous gesture. Does he know what price he will actually pay for this promise?

Haman wells over with envy and anger. Does he understand what happens to plotters and schemers?

Haman’s wife Zeresh urges her husband to build an execution scaffold. Does she understand who will eventually stand on its trapdoor?

Mordecai insists on worshipping no other god before Yahweh. Does he know that the LORD will protect him?

Haman, Zeresh, and Friends

These characters invite us to explore what gallows we build for ourselves and others. They call us to examine our goals and incentives. They ask us to open ourselves to the possibility of conversion and mercy.

We use the scripture link and the drop down menus to compare varying translations of these verses. We explore more about the lives of the characters in this story today.

For a film representation of Esther’s story, click on her image, or visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYOaP2rf–Q 

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Esther 10 and F: Thanksgiving – Part V

Friday, September 30, 2016

Jean Francois de Troy: The Triumhp of Mordecai

Jean Francois de Troy: The Triumph of Mordecai

A Favorite from October 6, 2007.

Mordecai’s Dream Fulfilled

A Favorite from October 6, 2007. To read the epilogue (Esther F), consult the New American Bible (NABRE) using the scripture link above. 

When we explore Esther’s story, we discover God’s gift of goodness.

How many times has this kind of rescue happened in small ways in our lives that we have given momentary thanksgiving and moved on to our next petition in our list of dreams?  How many times have we quickly curtsied or bowed as we said a hasty “Thank you” before rushing on to out next request?  We must always make the time to give full and abundant thanks to God.  For has not God’s goodness been overflowing to us?  We must pass along these stories to those who follow.  For have not these stories been passed along to us?  We must, like Mordecai who realizes that his highest hopes have been born out of God’s providence and mercy, gather together with joy and happiness before God that we may celebrate.  We must rejoice in the goodness of God for only this gladness and joy will carry us forward to New Life in the fullest.

When we spend time with the story of Esther, Mordecai, Haman and Ahasuerus, we open our hearts to thanksgiving. We open ourselves to the Spirit. 

Click on the image above to learn more about the characters in this very human story, or visit: http://www.moshereiss.org/messenger/15_esther/15_esther.html

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Esther 3 (B): Preamble – Part III

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Andrea del Castagno: Queen Esther

Andrea del Castagno: Queen Esther

This week we spend time with Esther 3 (B) today and consider it as preamble to new grace and blessings.

We see how God’s grace enters Mordecai, Esther and Ahasuerus.  We see how God’s power comes through a vulnerable and frightened, yet brave woman.  We see how God acts through inversion.  We see how God dwells with the lowest and the poorest.  We see how God guides, protects, calls and loves his faithful.  We see a foreshadowing of God’s most wonderful gift to come, the saving and redemptive power of the gift of Christ.

Mordecai remains true to his God and for this he draws the venomous envy of Haman.  He goes to God when the decree of destruction is read out, and he does as God asks . . . he goes to Esther.

Esther remains faithful to God and believes that God loves and protects her even as he calls her to take on in a dangerous mission.   She overcomes her fear and acts from her position of weakness, not from any strength, to become an agent for good.

Zurbarán: Madonna with Child

Zurbarán: Madonna with Child

Jesus comes to live among us as one of the world’s most helpless.  In this way, he places himself in our hands . . . and asks that we place ourselves in his.  This is the amazing story of Jesus that we know so well.  This story of Esther is a fitting preamble to understanding the gift of Christ. Let us spend some time with this story, and with Christ, today.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 25, 2010.

 

 

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Esther 3 (B): Preamble – Part II

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Paul Alexander Leroy: Mordecai and Haman

Paul Alexander Leroy: Mordecai and Haman

This week we spend time with Esther 3 (B) today and consider it as preamble to a new simplicity.

God’s sign is the baby in need of help and in poverty.  Exactly the same sign has been given to us . . . God’s sign is simplicity . . . God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us.  This is how he reigns.  He does not come with power and outward splendor.  He comes as a baby – defenseless and in need of our help.  He does not want to overwhelm us with our strength.  He takes away our fear of his greatness.  He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child.  He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts and his will – we learn to live with him and to practice with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love.  God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him and love him. 

MAGNIFICAT MINI-REFLECTION December 25, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI Christmas Homily 2009

We might reflect on the life of Esther in a similar way.  God sends a sign to his people through a woman who is considered an appendage of her husband, for the queen in this kingdom is not allowed to enter into the king’s presence without his permission.  In this time and place, Esther’s intrusion on her husband’s time and person is punishable by death and so we see that God’s sign comes to his people through a woman who has been taken as part of the household of a pagan king and who fears for her life whether she remains silent or speaks.  God comes to his people through this defenseless woman who is in need of someone’s help.  When we read her story, we might imagine ourselves as equally defenseless, equally frightened.   If we allow ourselves to accompany Esther as she listens to her uncle Mordecai tell her that she has been chosen by God to speak on behalf of her people, we will watch as she opens herself to allow God into her life fully.  If we watch what happens to the man, Haman, so filled with hatred that he plots the deaths of thousands in order to have his bruised pride assuaged, we will see Ahasuerus deliver to Haman the consequence of his own plots against God’s people.

Tomorrow, grace and blessing.

To learn more about why Mordecai did not bow before Haman, click on the image above or visit: http://thetorah.com/why-did-mordecai-not-bow-down-to-haman/ 

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 25 December 2010. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 25, 2010.

Jean François de Troy: Triumph of Mordecai

Jean François de Troy: Triumph of Mordecai

 

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