An Understanding Heart
In our first reading, the great king Solomon, the wealthiest and most powerful ruler in Israel’s history, asks one thing from God: an “understanding heart. “You have made me, O God,” he prays. Now give me nothing more than a heart great enough to understand you, so that I might govern your people wisely, “to distinguish right from wrong.” What do you get when you make God your first priority? You get an “understanding heart;” that is, the capacity both to understand and to love. What distinguishes humans from the rest of the animal kingdom is intellect and will, powerful gifts from the Creator. We can refuse to cultivate these two gifts—to act irrationally and impulsively. In fact, we are doing so at this moment: the unreasonable fear and confusion, the impulsive anger and hatred gripping our nation today is making a hell of our nation. Refusing God’s gifts of intellect and will, the human mind cannot understand, and the human heart cannot love. “Give me, O Lord, an understanding heart!”
The Supreme Good
How do they catch monkeys in Polynesia? I have been told that they drill a hole into a coconut and put a bit of tasty food it. The hole is just big enough for a monkey’s empty hand to fit through. The monkey cannot withdraw his hand if it is clenched around the food. They chain the coconut to a tree, and in the morning they find monkeys desperately clinging to the food inside the coconuts. Terror fills the faces of these monkey as they see the hunters approaching, but they will not let go of the food. They are not rational animals, after all. What they hold tightly in their clenched paws has become their entire world. The hunters capture the monkeys and cook them up for dinner that night. We, however, are not irrational monkeys. We are children of God, endowed with right reason and free will. We can let go of lesser goods to embrace the supreme Good. We can sell all that we have to buy that field.
“All marriages end in tragedy”
Today is my parents’ 67th wedding anniversary. It’s not been an easy marriage, but it’s been a good one. "If you're not careful,” my sister told him this morning, “you'll make it to 70 years." My Dad is melancholic by temperament, and in his wry humor replied “All marriage ends in tragedy.” My sister quipped back “either death or divorce,” but then added in her email to us, “theirs will not end in divorce. Bravo, Mom and Dad!” Marriage is not a compromise. There are many times it must be 100% from both spouses. It must be all in from all the family, and that’s why it’s a sacrament, a sign and channel of God’s grace, his love for us. It manifests God’s total love for us.
Thanks be to God my parents have been married 67 years and had six children. Thanks be to God young people are still getting married. Last Sunday two young ladies of our parish entered into formal betrothal with two young men. The young man said: In the name of our Lord, I, Christopher Ho, promise that I will one day take you, Emma Silmaro, as my wife, according to the ordinances of God and Holy Mother Church. I will love you even as myself. I will keep faith and loyalty to you, and so in your necessities aid and comfort you; all that a man ought to provide for his espoused wife, I promise unto you, by the faith that God has given me. And the young woman said: In the name of Our Lord, I, Emma Silmaro, do declare that, in the form and manner wherein you have promised yourself unto me, do affirm that one day I will bind and oblige myself unto you, and will take you, Christopher Ho, as my husband. And all that you have pledged. Our thoughts and prayers go with my parents, 67 years married, and with Chris and Emma, soon to be married. We are all in the hands of God, whose care is with His elect.