Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of God in the Scripture that speak to us of the importance of our external and even more so, internal orientation towards God in our respective lives. If our internal orientation towards God is not proper and we are instead distracted and scattered by the many temptations in this world, we will likely fall into sin and away from God’s grace.
In our first reading today, we begin with the story of the greatness of Solomon, Israel’s greatest king and son of David, who together with his father ushered the golden age of the old kingdom of Israel. Solomon’s glory, wealth and power were legendary and everyone honoured and praised him for his great wisdom and might, that as we heard in today’s passage, even the Queen of the distant country of Sheba troubled herself to go all the way to Jerusalem just to meet with Solomon.
God had granted Solomon his great wisdom, his wealth, power and glory because earlier on at the start of his reign, when Solomon was still young and new to the throne, inexperienced and weak, he prayed to God asking for wisdom to help him in ruling over the kingdom of his great father David. God blessed Solomon because of his great humility and also his uprightness, his desire not for worldly power but instead for wisdom and guidance.
However, in time, as Solomon grew increasingly older, as the Scriptures would show us, he became more and more influenced by his many wives and concubines, who still kept their pagan ways and practices. Solomon was probably consumed by his pride and greed, and he allowed all those things to cloud his judgment and led him and the Israelites into sin during the last years of his reign as king over Israel. And comparison was made between David and Solomon, how the latter did not remain faithful to God while David did, despite also having sinned against God a few times.
That is because David truly loved God with all of his heart, and his heart was aligned with God, and he maintained that love and devotion throughout his life to the very end. Although he, as a man, was also tempted to sin and fell on a few occasions, David has always put the Lord as his priority and sincerely repented from his sins and shortcomings. As a result, he remained firmly in God’s grace, and his reign remained good and strong by God’s providence.
Let us all compare this to what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, in which Our Lord Jesus had just had an exchange with the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who criticised Him and His disciples for not following and adhering to the commandments of the Law of Moses, on the matter of ritual cleansing and purification. At that time, according to the Law, everyone were to clean themselves before they ate food, and the Pharisees observed that the Lord’s disciples did not do so.
The Lord rebuked the Pharisees by being critical over their obsession on the wrong aspect of the Law, their focus on the trivial details and the way of the observance of the Law which they prescribed to, in being overly critical of those who did not adhere to their way of observing the Law. And Jesus also rebuked many of those Pharisees for their lack of genuine faith and for being hypocrites because they showed off their piety and actions to be praised by others rather than because they truly loved God with all their hearts.
This is related to what we have heard in the case of king Solomon, because it is likely that all of his glory and greatness eventually affected and influenced him, and as a result, he neglected his interior disposition and orientation towards God, allowing the devil to enter into his heart and mind, sowing the seeds of rebellion and sin, just as what had been done to the Pharisees. The latter’s insecurities and fear of losing their influence over the people made them vulnerable to the temptation of pride and desire which made them stubborn in opposing the Lord and His many good works.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the lesson that each and every one of us as Christians must take is that we are all called to be vigilant in our lives that we must make sure that our faith in God is truly genuine and sincere, that God must be at the centre of our lives, as the reason and purpose of our every words and actions. We must not do things just because we want to be seen as better than others or to be praised, for our faith is not for ourselves to boast about, but rather for us to grow in our relationship with God.
If we allow pride and desire to interfere with our faith, as king Solomon and many of the Pharisees had done, it showed that we do not love God as much as we should have, and despite our apparent and external show of faith, in truth, we love ourselves more than we love God. And in time, this attitude will lead us to walk further and further away from God and from His righteousness. Let us all ponder about this and discern carefully how we will carry on living our lives with faith from now on. May God be with us all, and may He bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.