5th Thursday in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 11: 4 – 13; Ps 106; Mark 7: 24 – 30
With extravagant generosity God had said to Solomon, “Ask something of Me and I will give it to you.” And so Solomon requested: “Give Your servant…an understanding heart to judge Your people and to distinguish right from wrong” and the Lord was pleased with this request.
Today’s reading from the first Book of Kings makes one question what happened to Solomon’s heart and his ability to tell right from wrong. We heard: “When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods and his heart was not entirely with the Lord, his God, as the heart of his father David had been.” Solomon, notwithstanding the gracious gift of God, had fallen from grace. And for all his wisdom Solomon, burning incense and sacrificing to the gods of his foreign wives, willingly turned his heart away from the Lord, God of Israel. The many foreign wives influenced him more than the God of Israel.
What happened to this king from the time he was graced by the living God to the time he chose to adore the dead idols? One might conjecture that he was carried away by his own importance, by the Queen of Sheba and others like her who were “breathless” before His greatness and the splendor of his reign. It seems, the God of Israel, in his mind, slowly began to take second place in his life and even beyond second place.
Perhaps, he forgot that God had gifted him – perhaps, he presumed on God’s grace, took it for granted or came to believe that it was owed to him. Maybe he came to see that it was something he could always expect to be his without really cooperating with the grace given. It is a situation anyone of us could fall into.
Any grace that we receive from our gracious God must be recognized, embraced, treasured, reverenced and of course, lived. We always need God’s grace to live His grace – isn’t this why we pray so often, “O God come to my assistance. O Lord make haste to help me.”?