Daily Reflection
July 28th, 2002
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
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Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 3:5, 7-12
Psalm 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130
Romans 8:28-30
Matthew 13:44-52 or 13:44-46

Before beginning the writing of this Reflection, I checked to see if there was a web site www.wisdom.com.  My computer told me that the site is unavailable and perhaps is experiencing difficulties.  I smiled and thought to myself, “You bet it is.”  If I were to write a book about the obtaining of wisdom, I’d write first a few chapters on the importance of the reader’s going out and digging a well by hand.  Only an unwise person would post a web site www.wisdom.com.  Only a foolish fellow would write a book about the attainment of wisdom.

In today’s First Reading we hear of how Solomon, who replaced his father David as king of Israel, had a dream.  Human worries, fears, and deepest desires can take their turns playing out in our dreams.  Solomon is quite aware of the immensity of his being king of such a nation and such a people.  So, during a dream, God asks him what he would want and God would give it to him.

Instead of asking for more power, or knowledge, or material enhancement, Solomon asks for a kind of wisdom by which he might guide God’s people rightly, that is according to God’s ways.  He wakes up after God tells him that he has asked for a blessed thing.  Would that it were that easy for us.  We have to dig through the strata of our own experiences, our own history of right and wrong choices, in order to begin drinking the waters of true wisdom. 

Today’s Gospel presents us with three more parables and a concluding summary.  These are rather simple and rather clear parables highlighting the nature of the truly valuable and the sense to choose it.  A treasure, a pearl of great price, and separating the good from the unwanted fish, all speak to the invitation to His disciples to follow His teachings.  The Kingdom of Heaven is a deep sense or attitude to which Jesus has been inviting His disciples and hearers.  The land in which the “treasure” was buried, the other jewels which the merchant sells to buy the “Pearl,” and the unwanted “fish” had their own value and attractions.  Jesus is offering an invitation to His kind of wisdom.  Solomon must have known the attractions to power, knowledge and possessions when asked by God what he wanted.  Choosing the attitudes of Jesus is the “treasure,” the “pearl” and the sense to distinguish what is of truest value.

The little image which concludes today’s readings is very important.  The disciples have been hearing and responding to something new.  They, as do the scribes, have been living their lives to this point according to the sacred and life-giving traditions of their Jewish faith.  Here, at the half-way point of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is asking for a little “faith-check.”  The “householder” is to bring out the “old” as precious and the “new” as a continuation of God’s goodness and desire to have us all a part of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus is not canceling or invalidating the “old,” but doing really two things.  He is confronting the “scribes” who are holding rigidly to the “old” and encouraging the “new scribes,” the Disciples, to value as holy revelation all that God has revealed through their ancient traditions and through Him.

The digging each of us has to do is reflected in the lives of the Disciples and the early Church.  Others can give us knowledge, which also takes some digging, but nobody can give us wisdom, no matter how deeply they have dug themselves. 

I remember asking my former spiritual and academic adviser about my studying for a Doctorate.  He gently smiled and said, “You don’t need more knowledge, but you would do well to spend time gaining wisdom.”  That set me back a bit, because I knew that I needed more knowledge of Theology, Spirituality, Philosophy and Psychology.  To be honest, I thought I had a wisdom sufficient for priesthood.  I have been digging since then through the levels of my rocky resistance and stubborn sophistication and have found some water there.  Solomon found that water in a dream as a gift from God.  We find it by waking up to all the invitations our daily lives offer to taste and sense the presence of God’s goodness which is wisdom and also the Kingdom of Heaven.

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