Daily Devotional for July 26 – August 1
for as many of us as were baptized into Jesus
Christ were baptized into his death. Therefore we are buried
with him by Baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up
from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should
walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in
the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his
Resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with
him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we
should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now
if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with
him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no
more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he
died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto
God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto
sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer: We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.
*Sub Tuum Praesidium
On the third day she put on her glorious apparel and wore her glittering robes, and passed through the door with a smiling countenance which hid a mind full of anguish and exceeding great fear. But when the king had lifted up his face, and with burning eyes had shown the wrath of his heart, Esther sank down and rested her head upon her handmaid. Then the king was seized with pity. He leaped from his throne, upheld her in his arms and said: “What is the matter, Esther? I am thy brother, fear not! Thou shalt not die, for this law is not made for thee, but for all others. What wilt thou, queen Esther?” She, recovering herself, answered: “If it please the king, I beseech thee to come to me this day, and Aman with thee, to the banquet which I have prepared.”
The king acceded to her wish; and during the repast he desired to know her request. She answered: “If it please the king to give me what I ask, and to fulfil my petition, let the king and Aman come again to the banquet which I have prepared them, and to-morrow I will open my mind to the king.” The king promised to do so, and Aman left the palace with a joyful heart. But in going out he saw Mardochai sitting at the door of the palace. And because Mardochai would not bow down before him like the others, he was filled with rage; and going home to his house, ordered a gallows fifty cubits high to be erected whereon to hang Mardochai on the following morning.
Prayer: O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.
Now it happened that the king could not sleep that night, and to divert his mind he ordered the annals of his reign to be read to him. When the reader came to the place which related how Mardochai had discovered the plot against the king’s life, Assuerus suddenly asked what reward Mardochai had received for this important service. He was told that the man had never received any reward. Then the king called for Aman, whom he asked what ought to be done to honour the man whom the king desired to honour.
Aman, supposing that there was question of himself, said that the man whom the king desired to honour ought to be clothed with the king’s apparel, and be set upon the king’s horse, and have the royal crown put upon his head, and that the first of the king’s princes and nobles should hold his horse, and, going through the streets of the city, they should proclaim before him: “Thus shall he be honoured, whom the king hath a mind to honour!”
Then the king said to him: “Make haste and take the robe and the horse, and do as thou hast spoken to Mardochai, the Jew, who sitteth before the gate of the palace.”
Aman was surprised and enraged to hear these words, but he dared not disobey the word of the king. He went, therefore, and did as he was ordered. Meanwhile the hour came for the queen’s banquet, and Aman went thither in all haste.
Prayer: Holy angel of the Lord by guardian, pray to God for me.
While they sat at the table the king said again to the queen: “What is thy petition, Esther, that it may be granted thee? Although thou ask the half of my kingdom thou shalt have it.” Esther replied: “If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, give me my life, for which I ask, and my people for which I request. For we are given up, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish.”
The king, in surprise, asked: “Who is this, and of what power, that he should dare to do these things?” Esther answered: “It is Aman that is our most wicked enemy.” But Aman, hearing what the queen said, was seized with terror. The king arose from the table in great wrath. Being told by one of the attendants that Aman had prepared a gibbet fifty cubits high whereon to hang Mardochai, he ordered Aman himself to be hanged upon it.
The same day king Assuerus raised Mardochai to the high dignity which Aman had held, and the edict against the Jews was immediately revoked. The Jews rejoiced beyond measure at their unexpected deliverance, and many of the Gentiles, seeing how wonderfully God protected them, embraced their religion.
Prayer: Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed by Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Summary/commentary on Esther:
The Goodness and Providence of God extended itself not only to the Jews who returned to Judæa, but also to those who remained behind in the pagan country. He protected them, and rescued them completely from the destruction planned against them by Aman. Their deliverance was really wonderful; for Divine Providence so adapted circumstances that the projected plan of massacre was simply brought to nought. By God’s Providence Esther was raised to be queen. Again, it was by His Providence that Mardochai discovered the conspirators’ plot; and also that the annals of the reign were read to the king that night when he could not sleep, the name of Mardochai being thus recalled to him. By His grace God changed the anger of the king to gentleness, and moved him to grant Esther’s petition. So also it was God who turned the plans of wicked Aman to his own shame, saved His people from destruction, and made His name glorious among the Gentiles.
Prayer: O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, blot out our sins. O Master, pardon our iniquities. O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for Thy name’s sake.
The four cardinal virtues. This story affords a shining example of each of these virtues.
- Prudence. Mardochai, Esther and all the Jews acted very prudently, because in their hour of need and peril they had recourse to prayer and fasting. They were convinced that these good works were pleasing to God, and that they would thereby obtain help and deliverance at the hands of the Almighty. They also used every human means of help which prudence suggested.
- Justice. The king fulfilled a duty imposed by justice when he rewarded Mardochai who had saved his life, and punished Aman who had induced him to issue a cruel and murderous edict. It was also an act of justice on his part, when, having assured himself of the innocence of the Jews, he recalled and annulled the edict.
- Temperance. Assuerus practised this virtue when, obedient to divine grace, he subdued his rising anger against Esther and listened favourably to her petition. But Aman, on the other hand, sinned against this virtue, when he let himself be carried away by his anger against Mardochai, and conceived the atrocious project of having every Jew in the kingdom massacred.
- Fortitude. Esther, though raised to be queen, remained humble, pious, and full of confidence in God. This made her valiantly risk her life in order to save her people. She knew that the passionate king would be in a violent rage when she appeared, unsummoned, in his presence, but she prayed, and hoped that God would soften the king’s heart; nor was her trust misplaced. Confidence in God gives fortitude.
Prayer: Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (3X)
Pride in Esther:
Pride is, firstly, a capital sin which leads to many other sins. See what a number of sins Aman’s pride led him to commit. It made him hate Mardochai, and extend his hatred to all the Jews. He calumniated them to the king, and obtained thereby an unjust edict for their massacre. His blind hatred grew to such an extent that he could not even wait for the day of the general massacre of the Jews, but wished to have Mardochai hanged at once.
Pride, moreover, makes men unhappy and discontented. Aman possessed riches, power and honours, and was held to be the most fortunate of men. But this highly-favoured man was discontented, and thought himself ill-used, because one individual Jew refused to pay him the homage that was paid to him by others. His injured pride embittered his life, and gave him sleepless nights.
Pride, thirdly, leads to humiliation and downfall. In Aman were fulfilled the words of Scripture: “Pride goeth before destruction, and the spirit is lifted up before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). His pride paved the way to his utter abasement. Imagining that he himself must be the man whom the king wished most to honour, he obtained really royal honours for his enemy, and had to pay this honour himself to the hated Mardochai, and proclaim his glory to the whole city. His injured pride made him desire the destruction of the Jews; but this bloodthirsty project led to his downfall and ignominious death.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.