Often in interviews, famous (or infamous) people are asked a question like: “If you could change one thing in your life…” or “If you could have one thing…: or “What is the one most important thing…” hoping for an answer that is quite revelatory, or surprising or deeply meaningful. One would hope that in agreeing to such an interview the person would have thought about such ultimate questions so as not to be taken off guard and answer frivolously. More helpful would be to live a deeply thoughtful life so that any serious question could be answered from deep within. It is clear that King David’s son and successor, Solomon, was that reflective kind of person, a good model for all of us.
In today’s first reading which chronicles the first days of Solomon’s reign, God appears to Solomon in a dream and says, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” The young king’s answer is so profound that I think it should be a lesson for every child, repeated several times during youth and then at crucial points in life – like marriage or other serious commitments, upon embarking on a career, at the time of retirement from work and in old age as a retrospective assessment of life. Listen to the conversation and see if you can honestly answer in like manner. (A caution: It takes a long time for most of us to get to such an interior state, so don’t worry if you aren’t there; just determine to keep on moving toward it!).
Solomon answered: “You have shown great favor to your servant, my father David…and you have continued this great favor toward him, even today, seating a son of his on his throne…but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and distinguish right from wrong…” So God said to him, “Because you have asked for this – not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies…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…” (1 KGS 3: 4-13)