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Ask What Thou Wilt

"The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, 'Ask what thou wilt that I should give thee'" (1 K 3:5). What would you do if the Lord were to appear to you in a dream by night and say to you, "Ask what thou wilt that I should give thee"? What would you ask of God? Health? Long life? A life other than the one you have? A change in present circumstances? God, with a disarming simplicity, makes himself available to Solomon. The Almighty places His power at the disposal of one "created a little less than the angels" (Ps 8:6).

And All These Things

Solomon is a little child before God. "I am but a little child," he says, "and know not how to go out and come in" (1 K 3:7). Solomon asks not for power, nor for victory over his enemies, nor for riches. He asks for "an understanding heart" (1 K 3:9) to judge God's people. "And the word was pleasing to the Lord that Solomon had asked such a thing" (1 K 3:10). King Solomon was given a heart so wise and discerning that there has been no one like him in all of history. "Behold," says the Lord, "I have done for thee according to thy words, and I have given thee a wise and understanding heart, insomuch that there hath been no one like thee before thee, nor shall arise after thee" (1 K 3:12). That is not all. The Lord adds, "Yea and the things also which thou didst not ask, I have given thee" (1 K 3:13). Christ, the true Solomon will say, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Mt 6:33).

Through the Eyes of God

By asking for an understanding heart, Solomon was seeking to enter into the mind of God. He was asking to see things from the divine perspective and to judge things through the eyes of God. Only the childlike and humble can see things from God's point of view.

Be Thou My Vision

Pride is the obstacle to understanding; pride is what blinds the eyes of the heart. With humility comes vision, and with vision understanding. The old Irish hymn sings, "Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart." Jesus, whose adorable Face is the vision of every wise heart, of every pure and humble heart, says: "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will" (Lk 10:21).

The World in a Single Ray of Light

To see things as God sees them one must be lifted up into God. Saint Gregory the Great relates that Saint Benedict was once so drawn into God that he saw the whole world gathered up in a single ray of light. Lifted above all created things, Saint Benedict saw all things as God sees them. In Chapter Seven of his Rule, he who saw all things from this divine perspective gives us the Steps of Humility, a way out of the blindness of pride into the seeing that is the joy of the all the saints.

The Little Way

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus teaches that, in order to be lifted up, one must be very little, very humble. In order to be raised up to the vantage point of God, one must be willing to forsake all other perspectives, and become detached from every other point of view. "If you would see as I see," says God, "confess that all your seeing is blindness."

Holy Darkness

Holy wisdom is a passage out of the human ways of measuring and of understanding into God's way of seeing and judging all things. The wisdom of God is a brightness so intense that we experience it not as light but as a holy darkness. We cannot begin to see things as God sees them without dying to our own way of seeing, of knowing, and of understanding.

The Child Jesus and the Holy Face

Pride, attachment to one's own point of view, and human cleverness are obstacles to the infusion of divine wisdom. This is the teaching of the saints through the ages. This is why all the saints have sought the poverty of Bethlehem and the nakedness of the Cross or, if you will, the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. Saint Paul says that, "the word of the Cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" (1 Cor 1:18-20).

Hidden Wisdom

Our Lord Jesus Christ is depicted on the magnificent tabernacle door reproduced above as One lowly and despised; He is the Wisdom of God come into a world beset by madness, by the folly of sin. Apart from Our Lord, hidden in the tabernacle, there is no way for us to enter into the wisdom of God, no way for us to be raised above the confusion of the world so as to see things as God sees them. We cannot raise ourselves up. The psalmist says: "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it" (Ps 139:6).

True Wisdom

There is but one way to heavenly wisdom, one way to gain true understanding and that is by becoming poor and childlike with the humble and crucified Jesus, by hiding oneself with the hidden Christ of the Eucharist. True wisdom is marked with the sign of the Cross. Wisdom enters when we ask for one gift: the knowledge of Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2). This is the knowledge that surpasses even that of Solomon. Saint Paul says, "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Phil 3:8).

With Those Who Love Him

Once the Holy Spirit has introduced us into the bright darkness of the Cross we begin to look at and judge all things differently. Saint Paul says that we come see that "in everything God works for good with those who love Him" (Rom 8:28). We begin to see suffering, hardship, pain, weakness, rejection, and loss as the material into which God weaves His own threads of holiness and glory.

That I May Gain Christ

This new way of measuring and weighing reality causes us to readjust our priorities. Saint Paul says: "For the sake of Christ I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him" (Phil 3:8). Once we have discovered the mystery of the Cross, hidden like a treasure in the field, we go and sell all that we have and buy the field (Mt 13:44). The person who is searching for the meaning of life is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. He finds one of great value, goes and sells all that he has, and buys it (Mt 13:45 46).

The Treasure and the Pearl

The One whom Blessed Francisco of Fatima called his "Hidden Jesus" is the treasure buried in the field. Christ is the pearl of great price hidden in the tabernacle. Holy Mass is the Father giving us Christ, and Christ lifting us up with Himself to the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Eucharist is a gift infinitely greater than that given by God to Solomon.

The Wisdom to Ask Rightly

In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Our Divine Lord comes to us, not in a dream by night, but in the Sacrament of His very Body and Blood. He comes to us and says as He did to Solomon, "Ask what thou wilt that I should give thee" (1 K 3:5). For what shall we ask? Let us "hold nothing dearer than Christ" (RB 5:2); let us ask for nothing but Christ Himself. Then shall the Father say to us, as He once said to Solomon: "Because thou hast asked this thing . . . behold I have done for thee according to thy words" (1 K 3:11-12). O paradox of God become obedient to the word of man! O Holy Wisdom, give us to ask rightly!

2 Comments

Sometimes it seems I no longer understand anything, yet I believe with all of my heart; even though the torment is awful. This is one of your sweetest posts ever. I can never express how consoling it is tonight.

Thank you for all of your beautiful writings!

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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