SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
A manager went out to lunch with his sales rep and store manager. On their way to the restaurant, they saw an antique oil lamp by the roadside. They picked it up and as they rubbed at it, a Genie jumped out and, looking at the trio, said: “I’ll give each of you just one wish, so ask for anything you want”. The store manager shouted, “Me first! Me first!” and went on to make his wish. “I want to be in the Bahamas, driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.” Poof! He was gone. “I am the next,” said the sales rep. “I want to be in Hawaii, relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas, and the love of my life.” Poof! He was gone. “OK, says the manager, “I want those two back in the office after lunch.” Uhhhh! Those two lacked the wisdom of letting their manager make his wish first. If God gave you one wish to make, what will it be?
Our first reading, this 17th Sunday of the year, had a similar story. Solomon encountered God who tells him to ask for anything that he needs since he is now the king of Israel. Amazingly, Solomon’s concern was how to become the best in what God had called him to do. He had just been made the king of Israel; just as God has called each and every one of us to some vocation and position—to be a priest, a husband, a father, a wife, a mother, a parent, a manager, a secretary; you name it. Solomon knew that the satisfaction of present and future responsibilities lie in the possession of wisdom—that quality of having experience, understanding, knowledge, and good judgment in the execution of responsibilities; that ability to organize our life so that we can live in the present while planning for the future and profiting from the past; that capacity to do, not as much as we can, but as much as we should; that self-regulation that prevents us from doing desperate things, from overlooking the simple things that inevitably are the most significant things in life. When it comes to life, wisdom is to be aware of where God is with you, right here, right now; to pay attention to your life, to accept your position in the universe, and to say “yes” to life on the terms that God is giving it to you at this present moment; to embracing brokenness as an integral part of life because this sets you free to live well, to love well and, in the end, to die well; to be aware of what can’t be changed and what can and to be at peace with that.
So wisdom begins with knowing oneself; to know what your limitations are and where you need help most; to understand that no one has the monopoly of knowledge and that we need heavenly perspectives to deal successfully with the challenges of life. There is a saying, “If you realize that you aren’t as wise today as you thought you were yesterday, you’re wiser today”. Solomon knew he was a very young man and that he lacked the knowledge to rule and judge this vast kingdom, which is Israel. So, he took his role as king and asked for wisdom. The Bible says, “Bring your work unto the Lord and your plans shall be established” (Proverb 16:3).
Here then, is our question: is there any part of my life-vocation that I have not sought wisdom from God for its execution? How often do I pray and ask God for the gift of wisdom to be a good spouse, a good parent, a good worker, a good student, a good priest, a good teacher, or to know what I can change, what I cannot change, and what the difference is? It is important for us to notice that Solomon asked for wisdom to carry out his job; he did not ask God to do the job for him. God is not going to do the job for us for the work that He wants to do in the world through us. That is why, in whatever area of life we find ourselves, we must ask God to give us the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to follow through with it. There are some things that money cannot buy one of which is wisdom. May the good Lord grant us the wisdom to do His work on this earth!