Commentary on the Gospel of

George Butterfield - Creighton University's

On May 5th, 2012, I laid face down on the floor of the St. Cecelia Cathedral in Omaha, Nebraska, where Archbishop George Lucas was about to ordain me a deacon in the Catholic Church. During the Litany of the Saints, I asked God for two gifts that I might be a faithful and wise servant. One of those gifts was wisdom - a listening, discerning heart that would equip me to minister to the needs of the people of God. Even though I believe that God gave me a greater measure of his wisdom than I had known previously, I was under no illusion that this would keep me on the path that the Lord had laid out for me. The fact is that I remembered King Solomon.

The first reading from First Kings records the new king of Israel, Solomon, responding to the Lord who told him to ask for anything. Solomon is humble and discerning. Instead of asking for long life, fortune, or the death of his enemies, he asked for wisdom. That, in itself, was a wise choice. In the rest of Solomon's story, we read about his wisdom in settling disputes and his ability to answer the questions of the visiting Queen of Sheba. He also has many wonderful accomplishments, not the least of which is the building of the temple and dedicating it to God.

In spite of his unsurpassed wisdom, Solomon strayed from serving the Lord only. Unlike his father, David, he served other gods. This began when he made some unwise choices. God had said that the Israelites should not marry outside of Israel and the reason given was that they would turn their hearts to their gods, away from the God of Israel. Solomon was wise enough to know this but he did it anyway. He had many foreign wives. Sure enough, they turned his heart away from the Lord. O, sure, the Lord was one of his gods but not the only one. If you read the story of the kings of Israel, the writer will generally end with either "King so & so did what was right in the eyes of the Lord" or "King so & so did what was evil in the sight of the Lord." You would think that, with all his wisdom, Solomon would be the latter but not so. "Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord" (1 Kgs. 11:6).

This is a sad story and one that I must remember. Can a person be given wisdom so that they can listen and minister to others yet still make bad choices? Will the gift of wisdom insure that we will never go astray? Solomon is described as the wisest man who ever was or ever will be but he decided to do evil things.

Solomon's life stands as a warning to us all.


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