People often speak of “the wisdom of Solomon” one of the great figures of the Hebrew Scriptures. How did he get that descriptor? This morning’s first reading (1 KGS 3:5-12) tells the story of Solomon’s dream where God appears and tells Solomon he wants to give him something. As often happens, God wants the person to ask for something specific so God can grant it. Sometimes, that can be a difficult position – like when someone says, “What do you want for your birthday?” and they’re looking for an immediate answer. Think about what it would be like to answer such a question when God was the one doing the asking! Solomon’s response was wonderful though! He tells God (a bit like Jeremiah when God called him to the role of prophet) that he’s so young and not at all sure of how to act as king – and yet he is the king of a great nation! So he asks God for an understanding heart so he would be able to make good decisions in his governance. What a wise choice for such a young man. God was pleased with this and grants his desire with a beautiful response. God says:
Because you have asked for this – not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right – I do as you requested. 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 to equal you.
It was difficult to choose which reading to talk about this morning because the above lesson is so rich but the gospel (MT 13:44-46) also bears a wonderful lesson as it tells two stories. The first is about a treasure found in a field which the finder buries again and (“out of joy” the gospel says) sells everything he has to buy the field. The second is like it but it tells of a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he finds one “of great price”, he sells all he has to buy the pearl. I realized the coherence of this gospel with the first reading as I reflected on both. Wisdom is, of course, the pearl of great price. Who would not give everything to learn the wisdom of which the Scriptures praise as the “depths, the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God – more precious than gold…”
I invite your participation in whatever way is possible (perhaps just this blog) to participate in the offerings of the Sophia Center for Spirituality whose goal is the deepening of the understanding of the wisdom tradition of Christianity, the pearl of great price. May God grant us all that gift!