Reading 1, Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25

17 Mordecai went away and carried out Esther’s instructions.

Mordecai’s Prayer

(a) Then calling to mind all the wonderful works of the Lord, he offered this prayer:

(b) Lord, Lord, Almighty King, everything is subject to your power, and there is no one who can withstand you in your determination to save Israel.

(c) You have made heaven and earth, and all the marvels that are under heaven. You are the Master of the universe and no one can resist you, Lord.

(d) You know all things, you, Lord, know that neither pride, self-esteem nor vainglory prompted me to do what I have done: to refuse to prostrate myself before proud Haman. Gladly would I have kissed the soles of his feet, had this assured the safety of Israel.

(e) But what I have done, I have done, rather than place the glory of aman above the glory of God; and I shall not prostrate myself to anyone except, Lord, to you, and, in so doing, I shall not be acting in pride.

(f) And now, Lord God, King, God of Abraham spare your people! For our ruin is being plotted, there are plans to destroy your ancient heritage.

(g) Do not overlook your inheritance, which you redeemed from Egypt to be yours.

(h) Hear my supplication, have mercy on your heritage, and turn our grief into rejoicing, so that we may live, Lord, to hymn your name. Do not suffer the mouths of those who praise you toperish.

(i) And all Israel cried out with all their might, since death was staring them in the face.

Esther’s prayer

(k) Queen Esther also took refuge with the Lord in the mortal peril which had overtaken her. She took off her sumptuous robes and put on sorrowful mourning. Instead of expensive perfumes, she covered her head with ashes and dung. Shemortified her body severely, and the former scenes of her happiness and elegance were now littered with tressestorn from her hair. She besought the Lord God of Israel in these words:

(l) My Lord, our King, the Only One,come to my help, for I am alone and have no helper but you and am about to take my life in my hands.

(m) I have been taught from infancy in the bosom of my family that you, Lord, have chosen Israel out of all the nations and our ancestors out of all before them, to be your heritage for ever; and that you have treated them as you promised.

(n) But we have sinned against you and you have handed us over to our enemies for paying honour to their gods. Lord, you are upright.

(o) But they are not satisfied with the bitterness of our slavery: they have pledged themselves to their idols to abolish the decree that your own lips have uttered, to blot out your heritage,to stop the mouths of those who praise you, to quench your altar and the glory of your House,

(p) and instead to open the mouths of the heathen, to sing the praise of worthless idols and for ever to idolise a king of flesh.

(q) Do not yield your sceptre, Lord, to what does not exist. Never let our ruin be matter for laughter. Turn these plots against their authors, and make an example of the man who leads the attack on us.

(r) Remember, Lord; reveal yourself in the time of our distress. As for me, give me courage, King of gods and Master of all powers!

(s) Put persuasive words into my mouth when I face the lion; change his feeling into hatred for our enemy, so that he may meet his end, and all those like him!

(t) As for ourselves, save us by your hand, and come to my help, for I am alone and have no one but you, Lord.

(u) You have knowledge of all things, and you know that I hate honours from the godless, that I loathe the bed of the uncircumcised, of any foreigner whatever.

(w) You know I am under constraint, that I loathe the symbol of my high position bound round my brow when I appear at court; I loathe it as if it were a filthy rag and do not wear it on my days of leisure.

(x) Your servant has not eaten atHaman’s table, nor taken pleasure in the royal banquets, nor drunk the wine of libations.

(y) Nor has yourservant found pleasure from the day of her promotion until now except in you, Lord, God of Abraham.

(z) O God,whose strength prevails over all, listen to the voice of the desperate, save us from the hand of the wicked, and free me from my heart!

Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 138:1-2, 2-3, 7-8

1 [Of David] I thank you, Yahweh, with all my heart, for you have listened to the cry I uttered. In the presence of angels I sing to you,

2 I bow down before your holy Temple. I praise your name for your faithful love and your constancy; your promises surpass even your fame.

3 You heard me on the day when I called, and you gave new strength to my heart.

7 Though I live surrounded by trouble you give me life — to my enemies’ fury! You stretch out your right hand and save me,

8 Yahweh will do all things for me. Yahweh, your faithful love endures for ever, do not abandon what you have made.

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7 ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.

8 Everyone who asks receives; everyone who searches finds; everyone who knocks will have the door opened.

9 Is there anyone among you who would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread?

11 If you, then, evil as you are, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

12 ‘So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the Law and the Prophets.

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