Appearing to Solomon in a dream, the Lord asks Solomon what he should be given. This First Reading is a bit startling when you think about it. Why would God ask us what we think we should be given? How are we to answer that? Based on what criteria? What does our answer reveal about our true nature? Is it a test? Doesn’t God already know what we need? As a fallen people, is the answer going to be a reflection on our greed and narcissism?
Solomon could have asked for anything but he does not. He begins by praising God for the goodness to his father David while at the same time paying tribute to the king with his words. Now as the reigning monarch, Solomon acknowledges his lack of skill set compared to David. He sees his task as formidable. No ego exists here. He does not ask for riches, long life, or revenge. Rather, Solomon asks for the gift of wisdom and discernment so that he may govern God’s people. God, pleased with his servant grants this to him.
What is it you would ask God for if given the chance? I think many would ask for something to benefit themselves. I believe some would go for the greater good though. As a director of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius I see how retreatants can have amazing self-reflective moments that begin to change their entire beings. Solomon had great insight about God, his father and himself. He was free to ask for gold, kingdoms, destruction of other people or places, and anything else his heart desired. Solomon, it appears, had a pure heart, a heart that sought God’s will.
It is hard to be self-reflective sometimes because we do not see what others see–both the wonderful parts of ourselves as well as the nasty. I do not know how I come across all the time. My quietness can be misinterpreted as thinking I am better than others. My caring comes across as too smothering. I can be too directive. I sometimes do not know when to hold my tongue and end up hurting people. Tonight after mass, a beautiful soul who is a former colleague shared some wonderful insights into my role at our place of employment and how my approach to my diagnosis and prognosis has been a blessing to him. As I left the church, I could feel tears of gratitude rise as his perspective of who I am sank in. It is not always easy to see ourselves through the eyes of others nor is it simple to rise above what we know about ourselves that others do not. I am a loved creature as a Jesuit I know used to say.
When I do the Examen, I can track how many days I am seeking God and how many times I turn away. I can ask God to help me with what I need in order to be the creation that I am meant to be, in the way God desires me to be. I do often pray for wisdom. I also pray for compassion, mercy and love. I find myself hoping that I would have the grace to get through each day in a way that points people to God. Sometimes I ask for courage to do the hard thing. Solomon has lessons for us though: Begin by praising and thanking God. Remember where your roots are and who you are. Remember whose you are. Think of how your life will influence others and draw them towards God. These are good criteria before you ask for something.
What would you ask God for, given the opportunity?
What do others not know about you that might be helpful for them to know?
Dream-Dweller, you show up when we sleep and speak secrets to us. You show us the mysteries of life and call forth in us the goodness that you yourself planted there. May we always remember to praise you and those who have brought us to where we are. Fill our hearts with humbleness and gratitude. May we serve you with joy and not count the cost. Amen.