Last weekend we celebrated the 17th week of ordinary time, but I didn’t get a chance to reflect in writing about the readings, which confront one of the fundamental human questions: What should I pursue with my life? We are limited in our resources – time, money, energy. How should we use them? We want to be happy, at peace, fulfilled – but what brings about these things? In the first reading, Solomon, the king of Israel, is given a rare opportunity. He is able to ask God for anything and it will be given to him. So, how does he respond? He asks for “an understanding heart…to distinguish right from wrong.” Because he asks for the proper thing, God grants his request. Solomon is given the gift of wisdom. Jesus also echoes our fundamental question of what we should seek in our lives. He uses the images of a “treasure” or a “pearl,” which are images of things of maximum concentrated value. He says that “the kingdom of God” is the thing of maximum value and it is the things for which we should sacrifice the entirety of our lives. But what is wisdom and what is the kingdom of God? The kingdom of God is the state of being in which all things are properly ordered. People behave in a just and fair manor toward each other and they live in a balanced way with regards to themselves. In short, it is the “place” where people love each thing or person as God loves them – in proportion to their value. In a related manor, wisdom is “knowledge of the highest good;” it is knowledge of who God is and what he has created.
Solomon asked for an understanding heart that knows right from wrong. Right and wrong are not arbitrary rules or commands. Right and wrong are embedded within all of God’s creation because they are principles of understanding about what a thing is and how it is to be used. They are not impositions but practical guidelines. Wisdom is, in a sense, the vision of how all the parts of reality fit together. What should we pursue with all of our resources? Knowledge of who God is, what he has created, how the pieces fit together, and how we fit into that great symphony of reality. In pursuing such wisdom, we are pursuing God himself.
Yours in Christ,
(Our Lady of the Presentation Parish)