Today in the First Reading from the Old Testament we hear the story of Solomon’s petition to God for an understanding heart (for wisdom), for discernment in right and wrong—right judgment—instead of wealth, riches, vigor, fame and power. Solomon demonstrates to us just what real treasure is: real treasure is the wisdom that will help us choose to always seek first the kingdom of heaven—mercy, love and compassion in all instances. This is the way that leads to everlasting life: actions of love before all other things in this world. Real wisdom is an understanding heart.
The Gospel today refers to this wisdom, this attitude, as: “a pearl of great price.” This is true and lasting treasure! After all this time we still speak of the Wisdom of Solomon and pearls of wisdom—and with good reason! God gives the answer to Solomon’s request: an understanding heart. Solomon chose something that would be of greater benefit to those with whom he was charged to care for and to serve. Chances are good that he listened carefully to what people had to say to him—although he was wealthy, famous and king.
In the same research mentioned earlier about status and treatment, it was found that most of us focus on what we value most—our personal “pearl of great price.” While the powerful can buy what they need, those of us with less assets depend on each other. (This makes me think of the Scripture about the rich man, the camel and the eye of a needle…) The research suggests that those with less are more attuned to those around them and their sufferings and challenges in this life. Thinking about this means that there are profound implications for our society and our governmental policies by those who govern us. Being aware and empathetic to others leads to understanding, mercy, compassionate aid and action—action we are called to by our Baptism as Christians. We are called to consider walking in another’s shoes in order to understand someone else’s crosses in this life; and like Simon the Cyrenian, help them to carry those crosses—not make them heavier and harder to bear.
Do we have as much care and concern for those around us as Solomon? Do we ask God for an understanding heart when faced with difficult situations, hurtful moments, our aggravating relatives, demanding neighbors, unhappy and dissatisfied customers, or just dealing with irritating people every day? Like Solomon, I think we all need to pray for an understanding heart for ourselves and those around us—and also and especially, for those who have a mantle of authority in public service: those who need and could use Solomon’s “pearl of great price” in their governance.
There is no reason why we shouldn’t (at least sometimes) experience the kingdom of heaven here on earth—even in the midst of this pandemic. It does, however, depend on right judgment, mercy, love and compassion—and the ability for us and our leaders to all have an understanding heart. Food for thought...
Keep singing in your understanding hearts!
Just a Note: I thought you might enjoy this young student Catholic choir singing: “Jubilate” (Be Joyful in the Lord). A good reminder in the midst of our everyday struggles.
Go to: American Federation of Pueri Cantores and listen to Jubilate! sung in Zoom.