what I really really want

Jul 22, 2011

What a wonderful encounter between Solomon and God in today’s first reading. Solomon was the King of Israel 1000 years before the birth of Jesus. God invites Solomon: “Ask something of me and I will give it to you”.  Solomon responds seeking “an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong”. 
God is very pleased with Solomon’s request.

Three thousand years after this encounter,  and in New Zealand (the geographical antipodes of Israel), the name and gift of Solomon is a part of every-day English conversation. We speak of the “wisdom of Solomon”.

The ancient high-achievers who were Solomon’s contemporaries in commerce and culture have been long forgotten. 

But we still know about Solomon’s wisdom.

It is clear that Solomon was already wise before his request. He was reflective enough to know his real need. He could have asked God for worldly wealth and earthly success. But instead he seeks wisdom. He expresses to God the real desire of his heart. Solomon knows what he wants, ‘what he really really wants’.

Even before making his request of God, Solomon has oriented his life to God. He knows that humans can find their happiness in God alone. Solomon knows too that giving his subjects only what they ask for is not enough. Seeking to be liked by the people by responding to the wants they articulate may bring momentary relief and affirmation. But such motivation and reaction is incapable of satisfying the real needs of the people or of their monarch.

It is significant too that the satisfaction we seek cannot be found in human achievements or accomplishment. When we receive what we desire, there is a brief moment of pleasure. But very quickly we are seeking the next project and goal.

We have all experienced this. 

Remember when you saved for that Abba LP, knowing that once you owned it you would be happy for the rest of your life? Now you have no idea when the record got thrown out. Now you are saving for a new plasma screen TV with ‘my-sky’.

This is very revealing. We can learn from this experience.

Humans on earth cannot exist happily without longing, yearning, hunger, desire, seeking, searching… 

Our happiness is found not in possessing, achieving or owning the object of our desire. Instead, when we live with the desire, in humble orientation to THE “pearl of great price” (that is God), then we find the purpose of both earthly human existence AND of eternal life.

This knowledge is the true “wisdom of Solomon”. 

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