The Seventeenth Sunday of the Year
27 July 2014
St. Joseph’s Church, 11.30am
My dear friends,
He was playing with a basketball in the driveway one evening trying to improve his ability to find the basket, when he lost a contact lens. He searched about for a short while but fairly soon gave up the search. When there was no sound of ball hitting board, mother came out to check what was happening. When she heard she vigorously took up the search and within minutes found the lens. Buster expressed surprise and asked mother how she had managed to find it. “We weren’t looking for the same thing,” she said. “You were looking for a small piece of plastic, I was looking for €225.00. Your father and I paid the bill.” To understand what we are searching for, we firstly have to give it a value.
I call to mind a man I met who now lives in Dublin. He was born in 1929 and is now a widower for over six years. He still wears his wedding ring and he keeps the garden “neatly trimmed in the way she would like it,” as he says himself. He seems to be a happy and contented man. He was respected in his profession and was a person of independent mind. He is writing a book, trying to gather together whatever wisdom came his way on his journey through life. He is trying to put words on the significant experiences which graced his life and work and on his reflections on these experiences over the years. You could say he lives quietly and simply. He dispenses a serious output of wisdom in advice which he gives to his children and grandchildren. Without realising it, and without any fanfare, this is as precious a gift as they could wish for.
Solomon was a young man when he inherited the throne from his father, King David. He had no experience and much to learn, as is the nature of youth. But he had enough sense to know what he needed most. When, in a dream, the Lord offered to grant him whatever he wished, Solomon did not ask for long life or wealth or power over his enemies. He asked for the wisdom to rule well and for the ability to discern right from wrong. What he asked for was really the most precious gift of all.
To be wise is to possess a power to guide the way you live your own life, a grace of personal tranquillity, which is able to bless and benefit others at the same time. It was no wonder that people flocked to Jesus the young carpenter and preacher from Galilee when he started to walk among them, preaching and teaching and healing those who were sick. Here was a power and a wisdom they had never experienced before. When they listened to him they said “this man speaks with authority and not like the scribes and Pharisees.”
We are fortunate in our Church today to have wise and eloquent preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, none more influential than Pope Francis. Not all of our preachers of the Gospel are to be found in pulpits. Many of them do not use words at all but the example and power of good lives lived in the service of others. We can think of parents and grandparents, friends and neighbours, teachers and acquaintances, people who demonstrated by their daily lives that they had found the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in a field. The love of God alive in their hearts has blessed our lives. These people have been to us true images of Christ Jesus and the wisdom of the Lord spoke through them.
The prayer of Solomon can be our prayer. Not to ask for a long life, lovely as that might be. Not to seek wealth or riches, attractive as that might seem. Not to want to dominate others, tempting though that might be. But to have a heart wise and shrewd, able to decipher the rights and wrongs of this world and to have a heart free of fear, able to love others simply and sincerely.
+Liam S. MacDaid
27 July 2014