Just a few words on our first reading. Solomon had just been chosen by God to be the king of Israel. He was terrified. He hadn’t a clue what to do. How could he cope with such a task? When God asked Solomon what he wanted by way of assistance Solomon had the brains to ask for wisdom and knowledge to act as a good leader of the people. He knows his frailty and absolute dependence on God and admits he needs help to “govern a people so great as yours.” Solomon ponders God’s way and the problems we humans have in figuring out the mysteries of our lives. He wonders if he’ll ever know what is right in God’s plan for Israel. Eventually Solomon rests from his worries by accepting the gift of wisdom which will help him know what the right thing to do is.
Wisdom is the first gift of the Holy Spirit; it’s a gift that helps us judge all things as God sees them. It’s a gift that helps us keep things in perspective, it’s a gift that helps us realize we are not alone, that the Holy Spirit will help us, strengthen us to live as God would have us live and love as God would have us love. It’s a gift that grows when we take the time to reflect on the experiences of our lives and learn from these experiences. It is a gift that enables mere mortals to search out the things of heaven and comprehend the counsel of God and teaches us what is pleasing to God. It is a gift that grows through life. Father Connell had this saying, “the years have their wisdom the days know nothing of.” We are wise when we seek the advice of elders, those who have been through it.
We need wisdom in choosing our life’s partner, we need wisdom in the raising of children, we need wisdom in deciding our choice of career, and we need wisdom to face the trials of life that can totally confuse us. We need wisdom to understand today’s harsh gospel.
The one who spoke so much about love now tells us we must hate those closest to us, mother, father, brother, sister, even our own lives. What Jesus is telling us is that if we really want to be one of His disciples, His friends, we will have to make choices. He must be number one and no matter how much other people may mean to us they cannot replace His place in our lives. And this is where we need the gift of wisdom, to judge all things in our lives as Christ judges them. To keep all things in perspective Christ must be first. As St. Paul tells of his own relationship with Christ he says, “For me to live, is Christ.” There may be times in our lives when choices have to be made, when a cross must be carried and God’s gift of wisdom assures us that with the help and presence of God, with the gift of God’s wisdom we know what to do and how to do it.
I love those words of Paul that tell of his identification with Christ, an identification that came to him through God’s gift of wisdom, “I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me and the life I live I live trusting in the Son of God Who loved me and gave His life for me.” No matter what crisis Paul faced, persecution, rejection, betrayal, he never wavered because he was wise enough to know Christ loved him and died for him, just as Christ loved and died for each of us. This is a wisdom that helps us see that no matter how desperate things may be in our lives we are loved and sustained by a love that knows no bounds. This is a love far greater than the love of mother, father, brother, sister, a love that demands it be the first love of our lives.
As we continue to celebrate this Mass maybe we can make our own the prayer that has had such a great impact on the lives of so many people, “Lord grant me the patience to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”