AD SENSE

4th Week, Saturday, Feb 7: Reflection & Liturgy

1 Kings 3:4-13 / Mark 6:30-34

God offers to bless Solomon: Solomon asked for an understanding heart.

An old Irish blessing reads: “May there always be work for your hand to do. May your purse always hold a coin or two. “May the sun always shine on your windowpane. May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain. “May the hand of a friend always be near you. May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.” Solomon composes his own blessing in today’s reading, and God grants it. One of the most beautiful lines in Solomon’s request is for an “understanding heart” to judge his people.

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If we could compose a blessing that God would grant us,
what would we ask for, above all else? “I touch my heart as the Easterners do: May the peace of Allah abide with you. Wherever you come, wherever you go, May the beautiful palms of Allah grow.” Author unknown
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We know that life is a continuous learning process. This learning process is manifested in the quest for knowledge which can be attained through education and reading and research. As it is, we are often measured by the quality of our knowledge, especially when it comes to a job requirement. Yet knowledge does not stand alone.

Knowledge goes hand-in-hand with wisdom, and they complement each other. To put it simply, knowledge is knowing the answer, wisdom is giving life to the answer.

In the 1st reading, when King Solomon asked for wisdom from God, it was not that he did not know how to rule. He had experienced advisers with him. Rather he was asking God to make him a good king, a king who knows what God wants and to carry it out. We need wisdom to see what is vital and necessary because we can get too absorbed with our busyness and get too focused on achievements.

In the gospel, even Jesus had to tell His apostles, who had just come back from successful missions and feeling high, to go off to a lonely place and rest and of course to pray. In the spiritual sense, we need the wisdom to come to know the Lord whom we are working for instead of just doing the work of the Lord. Wisdom is also necessary for self-knowledge and to get a good picture of ourselves.

I came across another version of the popular Serenity prayer and it goes like this: God, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to face the one I can change, and the wisdom to know it is me!
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Saturday of 4th Week: Liturgy

A COMPASSIONATE SHEPHERD

Introduction
As a young and inexperienced king, Solomon prays to the Lord for practical wisdom in leading his people and dispensing justice. His people is after all God’s people. Moved by Solomon’s unselfish request, God promises him not only wisdom but riches and glory as well.
What a pity if our world would become so heartless as to do away with compassion? We hear in today’s Good News that God shows in Jesus that he cares for us with a love deeper and more tender than that of a mother for the child to which she had given life. He is particularly close to those who need him most: the weak, those who suffer, the abandoned, and those who count for nothing. That is the love he showed us in Jesus; that is the love he invites us to have for one another: deep, tender, lasting, and not afraid of showing itself.

Opening Prayer
Our loving God, your Son Jesus, has revealed you to us as more warmhearted, tender and compassionate than any mother could ever be. Be near to all who are wounded in life, care for the little people trampled upon. Make all those who follow your Son people who can forgive and heal, who make themselves like nourishing bread for all who are hungry in any way. Make us care for one another as you care for us through Jesus, your Son and our Lord for ever.

Commentary
The wisdom of Solomon was a matter of the heart. We generally identify wisdom with the intellect. For the Hebrews, the heart was the seat of intelligence and wise judgment. In embarking on his kingship, Solomon prays for wisdom, as he realizes that decision making and judgment will form an integral part of his calling. He prays that as a judge he will not be swayed to follow any path except that of justice and fairness. Yahweh hears his request—one that did not center on perishable goods—and assures the king that it will be granted. It will be a wisdom that surpasses any that preceded or followed. In modern society, there is a continual emphasis on good and qualified judges, magistrates who interpret the law and do not rewrite it. Unfortunately, some of those who hold judicial office are unduly influenced by their own political philosophies. But this is true for all of us—we all have personal convictions that can influence our approach to thorny questions. The judge prays for an objectivity that will enable him to judge fairly, and so do we. Wisdom was a gift that Solomon evidently enjoyed in good measure. Our own times have not lacked good and qualified judges. This does not, of course, mean that their decisions always meet with unanimous acceptance. They too are human and, with Solomon, must pray for enlightenment. 

Points to Ponder
The understanding heart
The judge as interpreter of the law
Fairness and honesty “from the bench” 

Intercessions
– That we may be grateful to God for all the mercy and compassion he shows us, we pray:
– That God’s people may learn to be a compassionate community to all those who suffer and to those who are trampled upon, we pray:
– That we may be people of peace, who try to understand one another and seek reconciliation when we are divided, we pray:  

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God, compassionate Father, in these signs of bread and wine, we welcome your Son, Jesus Christ, as our Good Shepherd who died for us, to give direction to our life. Let us feel how much he is familiar with our weariness and our miseries, that he listens when we turn to him, that he is present when we need him. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. 

Prayer after Communion
Our loving and caring God, we thank you with all our hearts for giving us a sure guide, who feels with us and knows where he leads us, your Son, Jesus Christ. Keep giving to your Church today pastors in the image of your Son. Let them be full of compassion and vision, sensitive to people and their needs, open to the demands and potentials of the Gospel and of our times. Make them good shepherds in the image of Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

Blessing’ In the Bible, to have compassion means literally “to feel in the depth of one’s bowels.” We would say in the depth of our heart. To be close in fidelity and compassion to others. That is God’s way with us. Let it be our way with one another, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.