If God said to YOU right now: “Ask me for something, and I will give it to you?”
…What would you ask for?
Your answer to that question will reveal what you love. It will reveal what really motivates you at your deepest core.
There was a time in my life when my honest answer to that question would have been roller coasters.
I… loved… roller coasters. I still enjoy them… but back then… I mean I was all in. I was fully invested.
I was what you might call a full blown “roller coaster enthusiast.” It was my life. My passion. I was obsessed! I would travel up and down the East Coast, riding as many roller coasters as possible.
Theme parks were my motivation and my drive… My identity. My love. My treasure! My pearl of greatest price!
In our first reading today, the Lord approaches King Solomon, who recently inherited the throne from his father David, and God says to him: “Ask me for something, and I will give it to you.”
What does Solomon ask for?
A long, healthy life? Riches? The defeat of all his enemies? In other words… Is Solomon’s heart motivated and driven by something as small as roller coasters???
He asks the Lord for something way better! He desires something much BIGGER.
He asks for the gift of Wisdom!
And the Lord was “pleased that Solomon made this request.”
In the Bible, “wisdom” is something much deeper than just more information or more experiential knowledge… To be “wise” is to have God’s own point of view — So, what Solomon is asking for, really, is to have a Divine Perspective… To see things as the Lord Himself sees them.
To love what God loves.
To be motivated by what motivates God.
“Give your servant an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.”
Only the truly wise person can pray the Psalm that we just sang together this morning: “Lord, I love your commands.”
Lord, I love what You love.
Lord, I reject what you reject.
Lord, I want to say “no” to what You say is not good for me.
Lord, I want to choose what You choose for me.
“The law of your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces,” the psalmist continues.
Perhaps we need to pause and simply ask ourselves:
Is this true for me?
Is the law of the Lord more precious to me than anything else in my life?
Do I really love what God loves?
Do I truly have the Divine Perspective on things?
Do I actually have the Father’s Heart for the world, for the people in my life, for my own pursuit of holiness?
Or do I need to humbly ask God for more wisdom?
Because it’s so easy to get misled. It’s so easy for us to fall prey to foolishness, and start to put less important things ahead of God, like I did with roller coasters.
We are weak! We are so prone to wander!
We are all susceptible to prefer our own ideas, our own desires, our own perspectives over God’s Divine and perfect perspective!
But the amazing news is this:
Jesus wants to help us desire true wisdom.
Even if our desires are too small right now… even if we don’t quite love properly just yet, Jesus finds us and and offers to make us truly wise!
He’s willing to work with us wherever we find ourselves.
A good example of this is the story of St. Ignatius of Loyola, whose feast day the Church will celebrate tomorrow, on July 31st.
Before his conversion, Ignatius was notorious for womanizing, gambling, and fighting. In a word, he loved all the wrong things. His motivations were distorted. He did NOT have God’s point of view. He did NOT have the gift of wisdom… yet.
One day, Ignatius decided he would go win some worldly fame for himself by becoming a knight and fighting in the war against the French. While he was fighting to defend a Spanish castle, however, a giant French cannonball came and hit him directly in his knee!
Miraculously, he survived the battle and did not lose his leg, but the event left him bedridden for quite some time. And during his time of healing, he had an incredible experience of conversion.
How did it happen?
Well, in order to pass the time while his leg slowly recovered, he asked for something to read. The only books available in the house, however, were two books that ordinarily he wouldn’t have been caught dead reading: The first was a “Life of Christ” and the other was a book on the “Lives of the Saints.” (Imagine an atheist getting stuck in a hospital room where the only channel on TV was EWTN… that was basically Ignatius of Loyola!)
Now… with nothing else better to do, he reluctantly began to read these two books, and to his shock… his interest in them was gradually awakened! Soon, he began to actually thoroughly enjoy these stories, and he even started to wonder to himself: “What if I tried doing what St. Francis did?…or what St. Dominic did?” These thoughts started to consume him, and he pondered them more and more for hours on end, finding more and more consolation and happiness in the possibility of following in the footsteps of Jesus and the saints.
Other thoughts still came to his mind from time to time, of course… his old thoughts about chivalry, and pursuing women, worldly glory and fame, and all sorts of other earthly pleasures — but compared to these new thoughts about Jesus and the Saints, and the life of holiness, those old thoughts left him dry, unhappy, and worn out.
What was happening?
Well… Ignatius of Loyola’s loves were being changed by God’s grace — he was finally started to love the right sort of things — really good and true and beautiful things… He was starting to see as God sees! He was being given WISDOM!!!
And as the story says, “his eyes were opened just a little.”
This same thing can happen to each of us.
This same thing can happen to the most hardened sinner — the most embittered rebel who views the Church as the most evil, most backwards institution in operation today…
Jesus can open our eyes just a little, and help us to see the truth that God’s commandments don’t change… We do!
The Divine Commands don’t get fixed or updated… Our hearts do!
We heard that famous verse in our second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God”… To love God is to love His commandments. To love His view, His perspective on what’s right and wrong.
Jesus Himself told us: “If you love me, keep my commands.”
Here’s the truth:
When we fall in love with the Lord, then we soon discover that His commandments, rather than just being a set of rigid restrictions on our freedom, are actually more like a set of keys — hard and unchanging, yes… but solid enough to unlock a door to the meaning of life!
Who are we to demand soft, mushy keys?
Those wouldn’t do us any good!
Give me those hard, rigid Keys to the Kingdom! Give me something solid to sink my teeth into! Give me true wisdom! True knowledge! True understanding!
Let us rediscover the Gospel over and over again — It is not a burden or an imposition on our personal rights and desires… It’s a TREASURE.
A Treasure worth selling everything to go buy.
That is the finest, most priceless Pearl.