1 Kings 3:5, 7-12
The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Solomon answered: “O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; 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 to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?” The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request. 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, 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.”
Brothers and sisters: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.
Gospel Cycle Cycle A
Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. “Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”
The readings last Sunday and the readings today are about spiritual wisdom. As we listen to the first reading today, from the First Book of Kings, we can understand a bit of Solomon’s answer to God. Each of us can also ask this question of himself or herself: What would I choose? If God were to promise me the same as He promised Solomon, what would choose? The answer to this question will reveal to each of us a great deal about our own values and interests. Even if we do not want to answer this question here, during Holy Mass, we should take this question with us and ponder it.
Solomon asks for a gift that will serve others and help the people over whom he rules. We should also be aware that Solomon, towards the end of his life, begins to serve gods other than the One God. His wisdom did not entirely keep him faithful to the God who promised him wisdom.
The Gospel today tells us an answer to God’s question to Solomon: we can ask for the Kingdom of Heaven. Many of us never think much about the Kingdom of God. Perhaps we think about the Church, which is so often present to us as an institution. But it is the Church herself who invites us to meditate and to understand the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is both an idea and a reality. It is an idea because we can think about it and ponder it. It is a reality because it is a phrase trying to express God’s presence in our midst every day of our lives. The reality is that we can live our lives without ever thinking about the Kingdom of God. But when we begin to think of Jesus and when we begin to try to live as He taught us, then we are trying to live “in the Kingdom of God.” Our lives don’t look very different when we are aware that we are living in the Kingdom of God. On the other hand, our hearts can have an awareness that we are trying to do God’s will—and this is living in the Kingdom of God.
There are lots of people who try to love others and try to do what is right and just without ever knowing the presence of God. We who are Christians, we who are Catholics, are trying to be faithful to Jesus Christ and should know that this striving to be faithful is about living in the Kingdom of God. At the end of time, we shall all be in God’s Kingdom. Yes, perhaps some may choose for Hell—it is a real choice—but we can work now to choose to live in the Kingdom of God, that has no end.
If we look just at the first reading today and the Gospel, we can see that the deepest wisdom of our lives is to choose to live in the Kingdom of God.
The second reading only reaffirms this choice of the Kingdom of God. It does speak about predestination, and that was a huge problem at the time of the Reformation, when many people chose to leave the Catholic Church and belong to other Churches. But today most of us don’t even think about predestination. We all realize that God knows from all time those who will be saved—but we also hope that it will be everyone and not just a small group of people!
Thanks be to God that in the Catholic Church we have had such strong and traditional theologians as Hans Urs von Balthasar who can write books such as his which strongly affirm that we can hope that everyone will be saved. Every day we should pray for the salvation of everyone else. That is true love for others.
Today, this Sunday, we can ask our Lord for the salvation of every person who has ever lived. We can ask for our own salvation. We can ask that each of us can personally strive to live in the Kingdom of God. May God hear us and answer our prayer.