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Esther - Chapter 5
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1 (a) On the third day, when she had finished praying, she took off her suppliant's mourning attire and dressed herself in her full splendour. Radiant as she then appeared, she invoked God who watches over all people and saves them. With her, she took two ladies-in-waiting. With a delicate air she learned on one, while the other accompanied her carrying her train. Rosy with the full flush of her beauty, her face radiated joy and love: but her heart shrank with hear. Having passed through door after door, she found herself in the presence of the king. He was sitting on his royal throne, dressed in all his robes of state, glittering with gold and precious stones-- a formidable sight. He looked up, afire with majesty and, blazing with anger, saw her. The queen sank to the floor. As she fainted, the colour drained from her face and her head fell against the lady-in-waiting beside her. But God changed the king's heart, inducing a milder spirit. He sprang from his throne in alarm and took her in his arms until she recovered, comforting her with soothing words. 'What is the matter, Esther?' he said. 'I am your brother. Take heart, you are not going to die; our order applies only to ordinary people. Come to me.'
2 (a) 'Sire,' she said, 'to me you looked like one of God's angels, and my heart was moved with fear of your majesty. For you are a figure of wonder, my lord, and your face is full of graciousness.' (b) But as she spoke she fell down in a faint. The king grrew more agitated, and his courtiers all set about reviving her.
4 'Would it please the king,' Esther replied, 'to come with Haman today to the banquet I have prepared for him?'
5 The king said, 'Tell Haman to come at once, so that Esther may have her wish.'
6 So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared and, during the banquet, the king again said to Esther, 'Tell me your request; I grant it to you. Tell me what you want; even if it is half my kingdom, it is yours for the asking.'
7 'What do I want, what is my request?' Esther replied.
8 'If I have found favour in the king's eyes, and if it is his pleasure to grant what I ask and to agree to my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet I intend to give them tomorrow, and then I shall do as the king says.'
11 and held forth to them about his dazzling wealth, his many children, how the king had raised him to a position of honour and promoted him over the heads of the king's officers-of-state and ministers.
12 'What is more,' he added, 'Queen Esther has just invited me and the king -- no one else except me -- to a banquet she was giving, and better still she has invited me and the king again tomorrow.
14 'Have a fifty-cubit gallows run up,' said Zeresh his wife and all his friends, 'and in the morning ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then you can go with the king to the banquet, without a care in the world!' Delighted with this advice, Haman had the gallows erected.
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Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Gospel, John 3:16-21
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