Image: Sundog on the road to Tuktoyaktuk
To find a Genie in a bottle and receive three wishes, to wish upon a falling star, toss a coin in a well or blow out your birthday candles and make a wish. How many ways have we conceived to have that opportunity to let our imaginations run wild and receive whatever it is that we ask for? In today’s first reading King Solomon has just that chance.
The Lord appears to Solomon and says to the King, “Ask for whatever you want, and I will give it to you.” What would we ask for if we were given such a break? Financial freedom, true love, power or glory? Solomon ponders for a moment and his first words are surprising. He does not immediately jump to the object of his desire but he begins by giving thanks for what he has already received.
Solomon looks back at all that the Lord has done for him and his family before him and offers gratitude for how the Lord has always looked out for them. He acknowledges that God’s love has always been steadfast through thick and thin.
Solomon then looks forward at the situation that lies before him. He is a young king, without much experience and he knows he has a great task ahead. His thoughts go to the people that he must look after and over the many difficult decisions that he will have to make as their leader. He then asks the Lord for the gift of wisdom, to be able to understand and have clarity about what is good and evil so that he will be a good ruler for his people. The Lord is pleased with Solomon’s wish and grants him what he asks for.
Solomon chose well. It seems like he might have already had some of that wisdom that he was asking for. Many of us would be more impulsive. If you really want to know what to wish for if you had the chance, your best bet would be to first talk to someone who has lived a good long life. They will tell you straight about what the most important things are, because those who are happy, after 80 or 90 years, have already found them.
In the Gospel today, Jesus talks about hidden treasure. It is kind of like receiving your wish but, in this case, it is not free. In order to protect the treasure a price must be paid, an investment now for the fortune that is sure to come. He tells a similar story about a pearl of immense value which must also be purchased in order to secure its worth.
What are the readings trying to say to us today in these stories of wishes and treasures?
Because of his gratitude, Solomon was not looking for things that he needed. He knew that God had already done so much and given him everything that he had already received. So, when Solomon asked for a gift he asked for something that was already within him. Perhaps it was undeveloped, but with time and experience Solomon would come to develop his skills and he would earn a reputation as the wisest King that the people had ever had. The greatest gifts that we can dream of for ourselves, those that will give us a good and meaningful life are already within us, like buried treasure. We need to simply to recognize them and practice using them.
We will never be satisfied by chasing after the things of this world. No amount of money will ever be enough, power will only corrupt us and glory will fade and lose its luster. But if we can be grateful to God for how he made us, if we can learn to love ourselves the way God loves us and trust that we truly have been given everything that we already need, then we will have found a treasure of immense value and it will grow more valuable with each passing year.