Seventeenth Sunday of the Year 1 Kings 3: 5 & 7-12; Romans 8: 28-30; Matthew 13: 44-52
The Collect for the seventeenth Sunday of the year prays that the Lord might so guide us that “we may use the good things that pass in such a way as to hold fast, even now, to those things that ever endure.”
This prayer for discernment anticipates the young Solomon’s prayer for wisdom in the first reading.
“I am a young man, unskilled in leadership. Give your servant a heart to understand how to discern good and evil, for who could govern this people of yours that is so great.”
We instinctively recognise that there is a profound difference between a purely human wisdom, and the wisdom described in Solomon’s prayer as discernment. The differences between a purely human wisdom and the God given discernment sought by Solomon emerge from the context of his prayer.
The wisdom described throughout the scriptures is, above all, a gift from God. As such it is rooted in a humility that acknowledges, with Solomon, that alone we are lacking in a perception that goes beyond the superficial. It is a wisdom ready to confess that our judgments are all too easily corrupted with hidden pride and self -interest. Such Wisdom is God’s gift to those who willingly acknowledge that at times they cannot fully understand themselves, still less God and those around them.
Such Wisdom, grounded in humility, is expressed in love. It is a love that delights in the Lord and rejoices in his ways.
“Your will is wonderful indeed, therefore I obey it. The unfolding of your Word gives light and teaches the simple.”
In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus proposed such Wisdom as the highest goal for every disciple. Whilst remaining God’s gift, it does not come without commitment and sacrifice on our part. It is the hidden treasure whose discovery surrenders itself to prayerful discernment, and a willingness to surrender everything for the joy of its presence.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field which someone has found. He sells everything he owns and buys the field.”
Saint Paul understood such wisdom as a life-long growth into the intimacy of God’s presence.
“Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face. The knowledge that I have now is imperfect, but then I shall know fully as I am known.”
The Wisdom given by God is grounded in humility, lived in love and rejoices in its communion with the Lord.