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Wanting what is right for us

July 27, 2017
Sister Maria Catherine Toon, OP

God wants us to desire the right things. In the readings, he approaches Solomon, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you. Ask and you will receive,” Jesus echoes (Matthew 7:7). Since education is loving the right things and spurning the wrong ones, as Aristotle says, Solomon attests to a good education by asking for a higher gift. Wisdom is one of the intangibles that we need in order to win the spiritual lottery.

According to Aquinas, wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit that orders all other elements of a man’s life. He claims, “Wisdom denotes a certain rectitude of judgment according to the eternal law.” Thus, wisdom is a gift that allows man to make decisions, seeing as God sees. This ordering that wisdom gives is twofold: It leads to contemplation of divine things (an anticipation of heaven) and directing oneself and others to right action in temporal things accordingly. Solomon proves wise already to ask for such a gift in order to govern his people.

Solomon’s request for wisdom betrays a deep understanding of his authority as king, his own lack of self-sufficiency, and a deep trust in God. He does not presume for a moment that he can be a strong monarch based on natural talent alone. Again, Aquinas says, “it belongs to wisdom to make peace by setting things in order.”

The Lord’s response also mentions his expectation for more human requests: inordinate self-preservation and comfort, not to mention revenge. When I was a young adult, I used to pray over and over again to win the lottery: It never happened. God does not indicate if he would have granted any requests like this from Solomon, but he certainly seems to have expected them. Would the Lord’s love for Solomon have prompted him to acquiesce to his wishes for comfort and revenge? Solomon would not have been the world’s wisest man, if God had done so. So known in the Old Testament as a man who sows peace, David’s son is able to sustain peace through the gift of wisdom. “Solomon reigned in days of peace, and God gave him rest on every side, that he might build a house for his name and prepare a sanctuary to stand forever” (Sirach 47:13).

In the other readings for today, the church continues the thread of wisdom by connecting it to the kingdom of heaven. St. Paul connects the ordering of salvation through God’s providential plan (his wisdom): “And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.” If wisdom orders all things according to God’s plan, then his own desire to follow the plan he has made proves to be the ultimate wisdom. Jesus, too, indicates that those who are wise seek the kingdom (Matthew 6:33). They see the kingdom for what it really is: It is so valuable it’s worth a fortune and that many people as divergent and disparate as can be are all caught up in its pursuit. Their pursuit of the kingdom will contribute to the ordering of temporal things, manifesting God’s wisdom all the more and their participation in it. At the end of time, the angels will separate those that are unwise from those who exercised this gift. These are the effects of wisdom. Those who exercise it win the prize.

Jesus is pleased when we ask for spiritual gifts. His love recalibrates what we value: It orders all other loves. Ask for this great gift and exercise it. Our Lady seat of wisdom, pray for us!

Catherine, OP_Sr. Maria - web 100x125Sister Maria Catherine Toon is a Dominican Sister of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist now serving in Chicago, Illinois.

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