Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Wisdom 7:7-11
I remember standing on a street corner in Chicago with a pack of thirty people waiting for the light to change so we could cross the street. A man stood shouting at all of us, trying to sell us newspapers. As part of his sales pitch, he promised that if even one of us bought a paper, he would stop talking until the light changed. Sometimes I wish that all the purveyors of ideas, the salesmen, the advertisers, the self-help gurus would do the same and just stop making so much noise. The world is full of people doling out advice. Just open any page on the Internet and be prepared to be overwhelmed by advice about relationships, money, sex, jobs, politics, golf, fantasy football, getting six-pack abs, dieting, wrinkle-removal, and anything else you can think of! In all that seeking, we can get lost in a maze of suggestions, recommendations, and “quick tips.” After a while, it feels like we’re being shouted at by a newspaper man rather than actually learning anything. What we really are looking for is not silly tips, but wisdom.
Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom
In this Sunday’s reading, we overhear the inner prayer of Solomon, reflecting back on his choice to receive wisdom from God rather than riches and power. (The text where this reading comes from, the Book of Wisdom, was written in Greek by a poet writing long after Solomon’s death, but he puts the words of the book in Solomon’s mouth, so to speak.) When Solomon became king, God appeared to him in a dream and gave him the opportunity to ask for whatever he wished. Solomon made the right choice in his response:
Give thy servant therefore an understanding mind to govern thy people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to govern this thy great people? (1 Kings 3:9 RSV)
God rewards Solomon for his prayer not only with wisdom, but with riches and power besides. Wisdom is an intangible, a hard-to-grasp concept that deserves a closer look.