“I will grant you one wish.” That is what the Lord essentially tells Solomon in this Sunday’s First Reading (1 King 3:5, 7-12). There we read, “The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, ‘Ask something of me and I will give it to you.’”
After considering the Lord’s offer, Solomon responds, “Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart.” Solomon asks for the understanding and wisdom he needs as king of Israel to govern God’s people.
In asking for that gift, Solomon reveals that he already has a depth of wisdom.
Solomon does not ask for a long life. Perhaps he knows if he is granted a life far beyond that of others, he will have to suffer the pain of losing those he loves, and will love, as they are taken in death.
Solomon does not ask for riches. Perhaps he realizes that wealth does not bring true happiness. It breeds envy and resentment, and what people possess often possesses them.
Solomon does not ask for the death of his enemies. Perhaps he recognizes that even his enemies are the Lord’s creation. To ask God to kill his enemies is to ask God to destroy what he has made.
So, Solomon asks for and is granted the wisdom he needs to govern his people and the understanding required to discern what is truly right in the eyes of God.
Imagine for a moment if God were to ask us what we wanted. Certainly, Solomon’s answer would be a perfect response.
We need the wisdom to appreciate what is represented by the treasure and the pearl of great price mentioned in this Sunday’s Gospel. (Matthew 13:44-52). That treasure, that pearl, Jesus tells us is “the kingdom of heaven. “
We were made part of that kingdom at baptism. There God the Father claimed us as his children. There Jesus revealed himself as our Savior and Brother. And there we were empowered with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
If we have the wisdom to live as members of that kingdom, we learn the meaning and purpose of our existence. We recognize we are personally known and loved by God. We see our connectedness with others. We believe that death does not lead to annihilation but rather to God rewarding those who respond to his goodness. As Jesus tells us in Sunday’s Gospel, at the judgment the angels of God will be like fishermen sorting their catch who “put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.”
The truly wise and understanding person knows the value of having a relationship with Christ, of being part of God’s kingdom. As Saint Paul tells us, “I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8)
Sunday’s readings challenge us to consider how we would respond if the Lord said to us, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”
© 2020 Rev. Thomas B. Iwanowski