July 27, 2014 – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one equal to you.” (1 Kings 3:12) With those prophetic words God grants Solomon his wish for one thing—wisdom. Wisdom, of course, is much more than knowledge. In fact, what Solomon actually asked for was “an understanding heart.” Solomon sought not just understanding in his head, but understanding in his heart. We must look deeper into the meaning of Solomon’s request; in Hebrew the word for understanding also means “hearing.” Solomon wanted to hear God, and he wanted to hear Him in his heart. He wanted to listen to God.
We are all called to prayer, but too often we view prayer as a one way street. We talk to God and we expect Him to respond, but do we really listen to Him? Hearing God is an important part of stewardship. However, to hear God requires us being silent and listening. That is why adoration and other kinds of quiet and contemplative prayer are so important. It is through carefully listening to and hearing God that we can better perceive what we are to do.
The readings for this Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time call us to more than just listening though. The first reading from 1 Kings is all about Solomon seeking and being granted wisdom by God. Solomon understood already something which each of us must grapple with. Solomon knew that he needed God’s help to be the kind of leader and the kind of authority he wished to be. That is a conclusion each of us needs to reach as a good steward — that we need God’s help and we need to ask for it.
The second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans also speaks of God’s help. God has made an enduring promise to us, and He will help us to seek and achieve the glory of holiness and Heaven. “…All things work for good for those who love God.” The key to this glorification is the same as with Solomon in the first reading. We must seek God and we must respond to Him with love and obedience. Note that God is able to work “all things,” not just some things. Stewardship calls us to God-centered lives, but it requires discipline (The roots of the word “discipline” are the same as those of the word “disciple.”) on our parts. We must acknowledge and accept God’s role in our lives.
Jesus loved to teach with parables. The Gospel for today includes a whole series of parables from The Parable of the Hidden Treasure to the Parable of the Costly Pearl to the Parable of the Dragnet. After recounting these Parables Jesus asks the disciples if they understand them. They respond, “Yes, Lord.” Is that our response as well?
Do we understand in our hearts (recall the wisdom of Solomon) that we need the Lord’s help to achieve holiness? Do we truly understand that the Lord loves us, that we are the pearls which He wants? Jesus has given everything, His very life, to purchase us. Nevertheless, we must respond with love and understanding to His sacrifice, to His giving to us to redeem us. We must see Christ in our lives, every day and every moment. Last year at the Youth Day in Brazil, Pope Francis said, “The Lord told us, ‘Do not be afraid. I am with you always.’ Jesus does not leave us alone. He never leaves you alone. He accompanies you always.”