Our first reading today is taken from the Book of Kings. We hear the young King Solomon pray, “O 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”.
We can learn a great deal from this humble prayer of Solomon. He didn’t ask for victory over his enemies, for more possessions, for more pleasure, or even for a long life. King Solomon was someone who had many things already – he was a king. But he understood that, without a proper relationship with God, he would not be a good steward of the goods and responsibilities given him. He would not know what to do with the possessions he had.
We are no different. When our relationship with God is skewed – unbalanced – distorted – we cannot have a clear understanding of what to do with the goods and possessions we have. And in the end, those goods will come back to destroy us. Like Solomon, we need to seek a proper relationship with God, above everything else. It must be our one prayer – the most important thing. All the wealth, prestige, success or fame weaccumulate in this world will mean nothing without this one thing.
We see it all around us. It’s on the front pages of the gossip magazines in the checkout lane. It’s a story as old as time. A young singer or actress or sports star has wild success – accumulates millions of dollars, fame that spreads around the globe, all the physical pleasures imaginable. And we know the end of the story without even reading ahead. The star burns out. Their life spirals downward. Why? Precisely because they don’t have the wisdom to handle the ‘things’ in their life – the possessions and fame. They lack a right relationship with God – the most important thing. The thing that Solomon - the young star of his day – valued above all else and begged for in prayer.
God recognized the beauty and goodness of Solomon’s prayer, and responded: “Because you have asked for this - not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right—I do as you requested. 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.”
We can have great confidence that God will never refuse a prayer like Solomon’s. A prayer for the Holy Spirit will always be answered. It is always pleasing to God. This is because, in the end, a prayer like Solomon’s is a prayer for a right relationship with God – and when we seek this relationship with Him, He will always answer.
Thomas Aquinas was an extremely influential theologian, philosopher and Doctor of the Church. He wrote many great works (Summa Theologica was his masterpiece, find more of his writings: http://dhspriory.org/thomas/). And after all that he wrote, he was praying in a chapel in Italy one day and heard a voice saying to him, “Thomas, you have written well about me, what reward will you have?” He could have asked for anything – just like Solomon. But his reply was, “Lord, nothing but yourself.” And this is the way we each should pray – asking for the most important thing – a right relationship with God.
Today’s Gospel shows us just how important is the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price. This is how we should see our relationship with God. It is the most important thing. Something we seek above all else. Something we would give everything to obtain. And when we find that relationship with God that is right and true and all-encompassing, we will never want to let it go. We’ll go to the ends of the earth to keep it.
Later in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Matt 16:18) If we chase after the things that don’t really matter, instead of the most important thing, we are in danger of loosing our soul. But if we hang on to our soul by always seeking a right relationship with God, we will have life that is genuinely full. Isn’t that what we all want? A full life? A deeplyhappy life?
Let’s learn to pray like Solomon then. Let’s learn to pray for the most important thing – for a right relationship with God. Let’s trust that God will always answer that prayer. Let’s pray togethernow:
Lord, you have made me to know you and to love you. You have created me for Yourself. But I am weak. I am confused. I don’t know what to do or how to do it. I want to serve you in the souls you have entrusted to me. Give me a heart like yours – wisdom like yours – so that I can know your will and have the strength to follow it. Amen.