The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, Book III Chapter XXVII: ”How Self-love Greatly Withdraws Us from the Sovereign Good” (second entry)
After hearing from Christ about the pitfalls of the inordinate desire for “money and riches” as well as “ambition for honor and the desire for empty praise,” the disciple asks for fortification “with the grace of the Holy Spirit” against “desires of anything vile” and then asks for wisdom, per the words in the headline.
|Today’s first reading: 1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12
We hear today the famous interaction between God and King Solomon early in his reign in which the Lord, in a dream, says: “Whatever you ask I shall give you.” Solomon responds with the sentiment above. For this expression of humility and service, God lauds the king and promises him that he will be the wisest human person to ever live. In addition, he will receive earthly “riches and glory” and a long life — if he remains righteous.
Wisdom is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (see Is 11:2). The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines it as a “spiritual gift which enables one to know the purpose and plan of God.” So often, as we have been working through The Imitation of Christ, it has been impressed upon us the vital importance of discerning and implementing God’s will in our lives. True wisdom, unlike worldly wisdom, consists of this knowledge. Solomon recognized his extraordinary need for wisdom in the leadership of a vast people. He also had a tough act to follow in the greatest king Israel has ever known: his father David. Like Kempis’s disciple, Solomon, in essence, asked the Lord that he “consider all…things according to the order of Your wisdom.”
Would that all those entrusted with the care of others, especially leaders of nations, governments, and all representatives of citizens, desire heavenly wisdom! Our cultural decline would make a rapid reversal if it were so. And, although most of us will not wield this sort of earthly power, we also should embrace the gift of wisdom for the sake of our circle of influence, whether family, friends, the workplace, our parish, and so on. A sincere desire for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit will certainly not be denied us by the Father and the Son. Let us pray often for this virtue to “know the purpose and plan of God” and live it for the sake of God and neighbor.