“Each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most.” ~ G.K. Chesterton
“Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” These were the words of our Lord God to the young King Solomon, spoken to him in a vision in today’s 1st Reading (1 Kings 3:4-13).
Can you imagine? Anything . . . From God.
If you one day happen to see me driving around town in a sun-fire yellow 1966 Corvette Stingray Coupe, you can rest assured that God visited me in a similar vision offering an identical promise.
But it was Solomon’s response, wise beyond his teenage years, that allows the reader to consider that which is important to him or her as we reflect upon Solomon’s answer as well as the Lord’s response.
Solomon begins by acknowledging the Lord's goodness. “You have shown great favor to your servant, my father David, because he behaved faithfully toward you, with justice and an upright heart; and you have continued this great favor toward him, even today, seating a son of his on his throne.” Gratitude and thanksgiving are on full display here, traits rarely seen in a man so young in what must have been such an awe-filled moment. Before even answering the Lord’s question and submitting his petition, he gives thanks for all of his previous blessings. Great habit for all of us to get into in our individual prayers lives. “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1). Let’s keep going...
“Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”
Self-awareness is vital to a vibrant relationship with Jesus. Admitting our shortcomings, our weaknesses and certainly our sins will galvanize this relationship. Jesus already knows all these things about us, but as he seeks our assistance in doing the work of salvation, he wants us to be on the same page with him. Once we are, we can accomplish far more together, both with him and for him.
We are told that the Lord was extremely pleased with Solomon’s response, for he possessed a clear understanding of the big picture, doing so with great wisdom and selflessness. He did not ask for a long life for himself, nor opulent wealth, or even the stunning and crushing defeat of his enemies. As a result, the Lord blessed him with the understanding that he yearned for, but also with the riches and glory that he did not, underscoring yet again the fact that God always blesses us far greater than we could imagine, hope, or even ask for.
So how does one gain this type of understanding, one of the seven cherished gifts of the Holy Spirit? Well, for starters I think we can take a page out of King Solomon’s playbook and simply ask for it, pray for it. Prayers offered through the Sacred Heart of Jesus are particularly efficacious, for it is Jesus himself who encourages us in Scripture to “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, Knick and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7).
On the topic of Sacred Scripture, incorporating it into your daily regimen, particularly the Books of Wisdom, Proverbs and Sirach, the latter of which is a personal favorite, allow us to delve deeply into this virtue. The Gospels too will bring growth in this regard, for in them we walk with Jesus as he teaches us. We listen as he speaks, and he reveals himself to us. In many respects, life is an enormous school within which there are many teachers. Whose classes do you sign up for?
We must seek understanding above all, for as Saint Francis tells us it is far greater to understand than to be understood.
Understanding of God’s love, his mercy, his plan for you are vital to all who seek salvation. These can all be had, for as Jesus tells us “if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he shall give it to you.” (John 16:23). Through Jesus, the word made flesh, comes understanding. Pursue him ardently.
“Gracious God, our heavenly Father, sometimes we reach out for You, wishing we could touch You, see You, or in some other way find some physical evidence that You are near and that you are concerned. Forgive us our doubting and lift us, please, to higher levels of faith and understanding. We do not ask that You change in any way whatsoever. We humbly pray that You will change us until our spirits shall be more like Thine.” ~ Amen