Daily Devotional 5-29-2012

Scripture: Esther 3:6 (NRSV)
“So, having been told who Mordecai’s people were, Haman plotted to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

Thought for the Day: 
The book of Esther tells the story of the Persian King Xerxes I, his young Jewish (unbeknownst to him) wife Esther, and two of the King’s closest advisors, Haman and Mordecai. Through a fascinating, twisted and completely ego-driven series of events (the entire book is only about 10 pages long and an intense read—check it out), Haman hatches a plot to have all the Jews in the kingdom murdered. The genocidal act is only averted by Esther’s intervention (in an ironic twist that becomes apparent after reading the story).

Haman’s ire isn’t about religious differences though, it’s about his perception that his human power has been disrespected, for Mordecai, an equal in status of Haman, refuses to bow to Haman, even though King Xerxes has proclaimed all should prostrate themselves before Haman. So Haman goes on an ego-driven tirade that almost causes the elimination of an entire population.

The recent massacre of over 100 people by the Syrian government–nearly an entire village–has frightening parallels to the events described in the Book of Esther 2500 years ago. The Syrian government fights because it’s authority has been questioned, ruthlessly eliminating anyone who fights for freedom. But an authority that is maintained by fear and intolerance is not a true authority and can never be held. Eventually, God rasies an Esther and a Mordecai. It’s disconcerting that humans continue to wield power through oppression and murder, rather than recognizing that a position of authority is a gift and responsibility to serve the least of us, not a right to viciously attack those think differently.

Prayer: 
Merciful God, you are the only authority, and to you I pledge my soul and my life. Through you, Holy One, may we all learn the Divine traits of compassion, love, and mercy, so that our petty human differences might be settled without resorting to intolerance and mass murder. Amen.