Learn the Wisdom of Solomon to Discern Life’s True Treasures
User’s Guide to Sunday, July 26
Sunday, July 26, is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Mass readings: 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12; Psalm 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52 or 13:44-46.
As humanity continues to make stunning advances in science and technology, it might be easy to forget that knowledge and technology are not enough. As amazing as modern discoveries are, even the ancient peoples knew that they paled in comparison to the greatest way of knowing: wisdom. It is not hard to think of examples throughout human history of the catastrophes that arise when advanced know-how meets a lack of knowing why we exist and how to use knowledge well.
King Solomon was so strongly associated with the pursuit of wisdom that the books of the Hebrew sages (Proverbs, Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) are attributed to him over the course of centuries. In today’s reading from the First Book of Kings, we read the prayer of Solomon as he assumed kingship over Israel.
The Lord affirmed the goodness of Solomon’s request, noting that, since he did not ask for self-centered gifts or personal gain, but rather for a wise and discerning heart that he might serve others well, God granted his prayer. In later passages of Scripture, Solomon exercised this wisdom in judgment to the great good of his people. God’s words to Solomon provide a timeless pattern for what to seek first and for what is secondary.
Wisdom, according to many great thinkers in the philosophical tradition, is to know things according to their highest causes. In other words, wisdom helps us to know who and where we come from and who we are in light of our final goal or ultimate destiny.
This is the wisdom Christ taught in his metaphors for the kingdom of God. He directed the minds and hearts of his disciples to remember their ultimate goal and to be willing to live in such a way that all their choices are directed toward that goal.
If the kingdom of God is like a treasure buried in a field, it is something hidden beneath the surface of life’s events, but of priceless value. Jesus instructs us to invest all in the pursuit of God’s reign. We can ask ourselves: Does my family life, my life at work, my use of free time show that God is first in my life and that my goal is heaven?
If the kingdom of God is like a rare precious pearl, am I willing to sell anything to purchase it? Am I willing to let go of any pattern of relating, thinking, speaking or acting that does not draw me closer to God and to the true goodness that is the way of being in his kingdom?
If the kingdom of God is like a net cast into the sea that draws in all things, but from which the useless is discarded, am I wise enough in discernment to see what is useful to reaching heaven and what is useless?
The challenge of becoming truly wise is that no school, no degree, no program can guarantee wisdom.
St. Paul assures us, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) — so we have every reason to hope that wisdom is attainable.
Today’s Psalm aids our quest for wisdom: “The revelation of your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).
The Lord enlightens us through the Spirit of wisdom as we ponder his word.
If we seek wisdom in simplicity and sincerity, God grants our desire, as he did that of Solomon.
Sister Mary Madeline Todd
is a Dominican Sister of the
St. Cecilia Congregation
in Nashville. She received her doctorate in sacred theology from the Angelicum in Rome
and currently teaches religion and philosophy at Mount de Sales Academy in Baltimore.