The first reading for this Sunday is from the 1st Book of Kings. In it we hear about a dream that Solomon has in which the Lord appears to him and tells him to “ask something of me and I will give it to you.” I suspect that the writer of this passage was very aware that he could capture our attention as he told the story by beginning with the notion of the Lord promising to give a faithful servant anything he might ask. After all, wouldn’t any of us be enticed by hearing that same message from someone who had the ability to grant a wish, let alone an offer like this from the Lord. So, we are anxious to know what Solomon asks for and, at the same time, many of us hearing this reading might also daydream a bit about what we would ask for. We would surely have not trouble coming up with a laundry list of requests that would make us or our loved ones happier or healthier or in some way more successful.
Solomon, who was a young King at the time, asks for and understanding heart so that he can know right from wrong and make good judgements on behalf of his people. This request pleases the Lord. He tells Solomon that he could have asked for long life or riches or even vengeance against his enemies, but instead he thought of his calling as the son of David to be a good King. The Lord says, “I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.”
Solomon got his wish and to this day we hear references to the ‘wisdom of Solomon.’ Having a wise and understanding heart in 2017 is just as important a request as it was in the days of Solomon. Although he was a very young and inexperienced ruler, he had a keen sense of what he was called to do and he wanted to be faithful to that calling. Last weekend, Brother Ray along with eight other Brothers celebrated jubilees in the Capuchin Community. Their wise and understanding hearts have enable them to discern their callings to be faithful to a life of service as Capuchins and to be blessed with the example of St. Francis of Assisi who said, “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.”
We are all called to listen to God’s messages for our lives and, like Solomon, to pray for wise and understanding hearts. The author Joseph Campbell writes that, “We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned so as to make room for the life that is waiting for us.” That is very often very difficult to do because our vision for the life we planned has been a part of us for a very long time, sometimes from childhood. Giving up that vision involves the choice to live in the present rather than the past or a hoped-for future. Asking the Lord to give us the gift of a wise and understanding heart can allow us to find what we are called to do in the present and to do it with joy and the faith that it is God’s work we do and not our own.
By: Frances Carnaghi