A THOUGHTFUL CONVERSATION BETWEEN GOD AND THE YOUNG SOLOMON
(A biblical reflection on the 17th ORDINARY SUNDAY [Year A], 30 July 2017)
First Reading: 1 Kings 3:5,7-12
Psalms: Psalm 119:57,72,76-77,127-130; Second Reading: Romans 8:28-30; Gospel Reading: Mathew 13:44-52 (short version: Matthew 13:44-46).
At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.”
“…… And now. O LORD my God, Thou hast made Thy servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Thy servant is in the midst of Thy people whom Thou has chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered or counted for multitude. Give Thy servant therefore an understanding mind to govern Thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to govern this Thy great people?”
It pleased the LORD that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and non like you shall arise after you.” (1 Kings 3:5,7-12 RSV)
We are very foolish to think that we must have an answer to every question, in order to keep our credibility with others. The day we realize and openly admit how pitifully little we really know, is the day we become truly wise.
In today’s liturgy we heard the thoughtful conversation between God and the young Solomon, who has just been chosen as King of Israel. In his dream, he is invited to make a wish and is promised it will come true. Solomon’s prayerful wish is for wisdom, that he may know what is right and wrong and may judge people fairly.
In his position as king, Solomon needed to posses deep understanding to fulfil his office – but don’t we all? Regardless of our particular job or vocation, we are constantly in need of wisdom – both for our personal lives and especially for dealing with others. No matter how intelligent we are, our knowledge has not yet exceeded the limit and there’s plenty of room to grow.
Do we ever think of praying for wisdom, like the young king did? Solomon already showed his intelligence simply by knowing that he should pray for more. If we don’t know that we should pray for wisdom, that shows how much we need it.
God was very pleased with Solomon’s request for most young men, given the opportunity to have anything they wanted, would have asked for a long life, great riches or revenge against their enemies.
When asking for something in prayers of petition, we should say to ourselves, “if it’s God’s will.” It is His will for us to posses wisdom, for the more we acquire the more we become like Him. True wisdom can only benefit us; it is an ideal request. Perhaps we will receive not only our request but also the things we didn’t ask for, as happened with Solomon. After much prayer and study, we still should not be ashamed to admit that we don’t have all the answers. To know that we don’t know is a sign of intelligence. “I don’t know” doesn’t mean that we didn’t try to know.
So what shall we pray for today? A long life, good health, money, power, revenge? Why not go for the valuable gift of wisdom? Then we can better understand our God, ourselves and others. Then, when judgments are necessary we can be fair and honest.
Prayer: Almighty, ever-living God, thank You for the lesson of today’s first reading, i.e. thoughtful conversation of the young king Solomon with You. I now realize how precious the gift of wisdom is for one’s life. I humbly ask for such a gift so that I can better understand you, myself and others. I pray this in the most precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 29 July 2017 [Memoria of Saint Martha of Bethany]
A Christian Pilgrim