Lent

[REFLECTION] Prayer power

Pablo Virgilio David
[REFLECTION] Prayer power

Janina Malinis/Rappler.com

'If we want to receive what we ask for, to find what we seek, and to have the door opened when we knock, we must not forget to do it as members of the one body of Christ, present and alive in the here and now'

This season of Lent, Rappler is publishing a series of reflections to help you, our reader, find hope and meaning especially during this pandemicThe following is the homily of Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David during his Mass on Thursday, February 15, the 35th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution.

Today we celebrate the anniversary of the unique and peaceful people power revolution of 1986 that saw an end to dictatorship and paved the way to the restoration of democracy in our country. Strangely, I see an eerie parallelism between the historical events behind our first reading from the book of Esther and the EDSA People Power Revolution. Specifically, I see a parallelism between Esther and Cory Aquino, between Mordecai and Cardinal Sin, and between the Jewish people and the Filipino people.

Our first reading is the prayer Esther prayed before she carried out a mission that would save the Jewish people living in the Persian empire around the middle of the 6th century BC. What is the background to the prayer?

Esther was a lowly slave who rose through the ranks, first as a consort in the king’s harem, and later as the Queen, meaning the wife of Xerxes, King of the Persian Empire. On the prodding of Mordecai, her cousin and fellow Jew, Esther would make a move to save her people from a decree ordering the extermination of all the Jewish people living in the Persian empire. That decree, we are told, became a law in the whole empire, upon the instigation of the wicked Prime Minister Haman who hated the Jews because they refused to bow to him.

Unknown to the king and the whole Persian Royal court, both Mordecai and Esther were Jewish themselves. And so Mordecai prodded on Esther to intercede with the King on behalf of the Jewish people. But Esther was afraid because she knew that she was risking her life that way. When she expressed her fears to Mordecai, Mordecai said to her plainly, “No problem if you don’t want to get involved. God will come and save our people in another way anyway… But who knows, maybe God really allowed you to become queen precisely at a time like this.” Meaning God must have put you in a position of advantage because he wants to save our people through you.

God must have put you in a position of advantage because he wants to save our people through you.

Esther sent a reply to Mordecai and told him that she would risk her life, all right, but only if the Jewish people would support her with 3 days of prayer and fasting. She herself went into prayer and fasting, and declared, “If I perish, I perish!” and she cast out all her fears. Then Mordecai did as he promised. He mobilized a PRAYER POWER for 3 days and 3 nights. At the end of the 3 days, Esther succeeded in her mission. She was able to turn the tables on the wicked Prime Minister who wished harm on her people, and was able to reverse the decree that had earlier ordered the massacre of the Jewish people.

And so until this day, the Jewish Feast of the Purim or the so-called Festival of the Lots is celebrated on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar. To my great surprise, when I checked the Jewish calendar, the Jewish feast of Purim for this year falls on this day, the 25th of February 2021, exactly on the Anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.

It was also during 3 days in February, starting on the 22nd until the 25th, that Cardinal Sin called for people to go out to EDSA, specifically, to pray and to fast. The context was the daring move of Cory Aquino to save our democracy by running for President in a snap presidential election as the lone contender against the dictator. This happened 3 years after her husband Ninoy was murdered at the tarmac of the International airport that has since been named after him. The rest, as they say, is history. And unfortunately, this history has become very hazy in the memory of our young people today, because of all the dangerous revisionist efforts of some people.

Our Gospel is also about Jesus endorsing the power of prayer, especially when done together. In another passage in Matthew, Jesus says, “…if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together IN MY NAME, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt 18:19-20)

It is okay to make our personal individual prayers and petitions directly to God. But if we really want to experience PRAYER POWER, Matthew’s Gospel adds one little phrase that makes all the difference: IN MY NAME. Meaning, if we want to receive what we ask for, to find what we seek, and to have the door opened when we knock, we must not forget to do it as members of the one body of Christ, present and alive in the here and now, as a community bonded together by the One Spirit which we received at Baptism. That is the reason why we pray all our prayers, as Christians, in the name of Jesus. – Rappler.com