1 Kings 3:4-13
Solomon was the second son of David and Bathsheba and the third king of Israel. He ruled for about forty years, expanding the boundaries of Israel and amassing a great fortune for himself and his country.
In today’s first reading we hear from a young Solomon who finds himself in a powerful position that exceeds his capabilities. He tells God he is too young, not knowing how to act in leading such a huge number of people.
God gave Solomon a blank check, "Ask something of me, and I will give it to you." He could have asked for power, wealth, success, a life without headaches or heartaches, glory or the fulfillment of any number of personal desires. Today we might ask God for the winning numbers in a Mega Lotto, a healthy family, quickly moving up the ladder at work, a photographic memory, a computer that never has a problem, etc.
Solomon, in great humility, asked for an understanding heart and the wisdom to know right from wrong. Solomon knows he will need wisdom more than facts about leadership skills. Today, we live in what social scientists call the information age. Information, facts and theories abound and multiply. It is estimated that more than 2,000 new books are published every week worldwide. Add to that magazines, newspapers, journals, web pages. The total is far beyond the capacity of any person to keep track of, let alone read and absorb. Has this avalanche of knowledge made us any wiser? Has more knowledge eliminated greed, pride, anger or lust? If anything, we seem to be in a world that is greedier, prouder, angrier and more sexually oriented than ever before. The most destructive wars of last century were fought between the most educated nations on earth.
What would you ask of God? More knowledge to succeed, the skills to impress others, life without pain? Or an understanding heart to discern right from wrong? An understanding heart was the greatest gift to ask for thousands of years ago. It remains the greatest gift today.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is Provincial of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.