If you told your teenage child to ask for anything, the single thing they want the most, how likely is it that they will ask for wisdom? And if now I asked you, how likely is it that you will ask for wisdom? It is not a secret that life with all its experiences shapes who we are, orders our priorities and makes us value certain things more than others. In the first reading this Sunday we have the example of Solomon. According to some sources, he was only 12 when, quite in a hurry, he was anointed king. You can almost visualize the horror in Solomon’s face when he found out he would have to lead a whole nation at such a young age. But then God spoke to him in a dream and told him: “ask what you would like me to give you”, and Solomon, who had no time to beat around the bush, answered right away: “give me wisdom”. As a teenager, wisdom was probably not his number one priority, but, hey! things had changed quite rapidly and there was nothing else he needed more. However, his choice was not just forced by the circumstances, it is also the result of an enormous spiritual effort and courage, that took young Solomon deep within his heart in search for the one thing he desired and needed most. And he must have got it right because God was “pleased” – which does not happen many times in the Old Testament.
Like him, there is a whole horde of men and women in the Bible who left what they loved and made them feel secure to go in search for something that was much better, more valuable and that deep down they desired more. An act of courage and faith that Jesus also demands of his disciples in the Gospel today. And, it is not that riches and material things are incompatible with the Kingdom of God. The issue here is that once you realise the incalculable value of the Kingdom of God, riches and possessions will appear as mere trinket and knick-knack. As St Paul himself wrote to his community in Philippi from Rome while he was in prison: “But what were once my assets I now through Christ Jesus count as losses. Yes, I will go further: because of the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, I count everything else as loss. For him I have accepted the loss of all other things, and look on them all as filth if only I can gain Christ” (Phi 3:7-8). So, this isn’t really about choosing between wisdom and riches or between the Kingdom of God and possessions because there isn’t a real choice. To choose something other than the Kingdom is to choose nothing. So, this is about discovering the real value of things, or rather the lack of value they have once you have encountered the Kingdom of God.
Fr Daniel Herrero Pena
For details of Fr Freddie Jackson's funeral rites follow this link.