Just a word… Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Just a word… Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time… July 26, 2020

Were you surprised when King Solomon in our first reading, having been invited by God to ask for anything he wanted, prayed for wisdom and understanding, not wealth or power? Solomon is remembered as a king endowed with exactly what he asked of God.

Thinking about Solomon’s prayer prompted a memory from my own life. My mother, a wisdom figure in my life, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, sending shock waves through my family. My father was devastated, my three sisters and I ran the gamut from anger and blame to denial and deep sorrow. We could not believe that this dreaded disease had taken our mother prisoner and would not release her.

I confided my fears and confusion about our devolving family dynamic to a friend who recommended that I seek the counsel of her friend who had weathered a similar situation; she had recently written a book describing her journey. I delayed that encounter for a while, but eventually phoned the author, who immediately invited me to her home to talk. After describing my situation, the author suggested that we pray for my mother and my family. I was taken aback when she took both my hands in hers, bowed her head and prayed from her heart. (I expected to be praying the Our Father!) She spoke to God of my situation, praying for guidance and patience, for the wisdom to distinguish between what was possible and what was not, and for understanding among my family members. She did not offer any platitudes or helpful hints, aside from what was in her book. But she did give me a great gift, that of placing my anxiety and fear of what the future might hold directly into God’s hands, leaving me with a deep sense of peace.

Our readings today offer us hope. Paul assures us that all things work together for the good of those who love God. Our Gospel gives us images of the Kingdom of God, speaking once again of searching and finding, be that for a treasure, a pearl, a delicious fish, or a glimpse of the kingdom. Whatever our individual life circumstances, whatever choices lie in our paths, the ability to ask God for wisdom to know what to act upon or not, what to choose or not, is a great gift, a gift that can open the door to the kingdom as out of love we make Solomon’s prayer our own: Give your servants, Lord, an understanding heart.

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