Today’s scripture passage comes from the first reading at Mass (1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12). Solomon has just been made king of Israel when God appears to him in a dream asking him what he wants from God. He asks for wisdom (“an understanding heart” — v. 9) to handle the awesome task of leading the Chosen People. God responds approvingly, granting him this (” a heart so wise” — v. 12) as well as much more (this we come to know in the verses immediately following this reading) — riches, glory, and long life (the latter if he is obedient).
Two gospel passages quickly came to mind upon hearing the Old Testament reading proclaimed. First, from Matthew 6: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (v. 8). God did not ask Solomon what he wished in order to help God Himself with the decision regarding what gifts to bestow upon the king. Rather, the Lord desired to hear from Solomon what He already knew. Would God have granted a selfish desire of Solomon’s? He may well have. And then Solomon would have learned the hard way what it means to not align his will with his Lord’s will (as so many subsequent kings did). The same is true for us. Our Father knows what we need. The Holy Spirit, working through His Church, is available to enlighten us. We have the means, especially through the sacraments, the ordinary channels of grace, to properly discern God’s will and, with this grace, the ability to follow it.
Which leads to the second saying of Jesus that is evoked by Solomon’s nighttime encounter with Yahweh. This comes at the end of the same chapter as above in the gospel of the first evangelist in the New Testament: “Seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (v. 33). (In fact, I was pleasantly surprised when Mass closed with this song.) Solomon realized, as we should, that to aspire to eternal goods surpasses by far any material or temporal goods. And, guess what, all the earthly things were given to him as well due to his faithfulness and his desire to emulate the Almighty, in turn, seeking to emulate heaven on earth by ruling justly as God does. Every time we pray the Our Father, we also ask that “thy kingdom come” (again Matthew 6, this time verse 10). As Christians we long for the fullness of God’s reign to be made manifest.
So let us pray for the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit, these seven gifts of which the first enumerated is wisdom (see Is 11:2-3). Whole books of the Bible are dedicated to wisdom (thus the so-called “wisdom books” of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom, and Sirach). You are invited to work through these books prayerfully with me this year.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him.” (Jas 1:5)