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Solomon was dreaming about his new ministry as king of God’s people Israel. King David, his father, had been a most worthy leader, and Solomon wanted so much to follow in his father’s footsteps and govern well.
This young king understood the awesome privilege and responsibility he was facing (1 Kings 3:5-9).
God spoke to Solomon in his dream, offering to provide him with whatever gift might be helpful as king. Solomon bypassed the things that might immediately come to mind as useful — money, power, influence, popularity. He saw himself rather as one open to govern God’s people as servant, instead of expecting to be served. Solomon asked for the gift of wisdom—an understanding heart to judge well and to distinguish between right and wrong.
Are we not impressed with such a noble request from the young king? God certainly was. He granted his wish in abundance.
As King of Israel, the “pearl” of great price Solomon sought could easily have been his own self-interest. For many in leadership positions, within our own country and beyond, taking care of No. 1 seems to be the preoccupation.
“Me first, and if there is any time or energy or resources left, possibly your needs—but don’t count on it” demonstrates a dismissal of anything and anybody who does not serve my needs, my wants, my agenda.
The pearl of great price sought after is bought at the expense of whoever gets in the way. We see plenty of that mentality played out in the daily news. We are simply horrified.
The experience of Solomon challenges us to go beyond examining the motives that drive people who horrify us in the news.
It invites us to examine the reasons that underpin what we say and do. God asks each of us the question, “My beloved disciple, in all honesty, what motives deep within energize you and drive you? Name the pearl of great price you seek, and how much are you willing to pay for it or make others pay? At the end of the day, where do you find that pearl in your examination of conscience? Dearly beloved, if I were to appear in your dreams and offer you whatever you want, what would you ask for?”
Sister Paula Gohs, C.D.P., is a pastoral associate at St. John’s The Evangelist Catholic Church in Carrollton.