Sunday, July 24, 2011

Seeking Real Treasure

"The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.  God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” (1 Kings 3:5)

How do we use the gifts that God has given us?  Way back in 1984, there was a magnificent film released about the life of Mozart called Amadeus.  However, the film was told from the point of view of another musical composer, Antonio Salieri, who was angry at God for giving Mozart who is portrayed as a vulgar buffoon such extraordinary musical gifts.  Salieri slaved over each note of his compositions and longed for God to give him the same gifts he gave Mozart so that he could use them to write divine music, but instead Mozart would effortlessly compose great symphonies which would only fuel the envy inside Salieri's heart.  The movie is a wonderful example of how each of us are given gifts from above and how we use them.  In the opening prayer today, we ask that we may use the gifts that God has given us with wisdom.  We sometimes forget that God has endowed each of us with great gifts.  Now some, like Mozart, are blessed more than others, yet we are called to discern God's will in our lives and place them at the service of his Kingdom.  Today we come to the Eucharist to ask the Lord to make us aware of the many blessings and gifts that he has given us and how we use them wisely.

In the first reading, God appears to Solomon and basically says, "Whatever you ask of me, I will give it to you."  Solomon even in his youth does not ask for riches or more power, but rather because he recognizes the limitations of his youth, he responds to the Lord by saying, "Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong (1 King 3:9)."  Solomon just wanted the wisdom to discern right from wrong and to know God's will.  Why?  Because he knew that happiness resides in doing the will of God and that joy is worth more than anything the world has to offer.

Unfortunately, too often we go looking for happiness in a world that cannot possibly bring us joy.  We seek solace in vices and things that only draw us further away from God's divine love.  Yet when we find the treasure that Jesus speaks of in today's gospel, we don't ever want to let it go.  The real treasure of knowing how much God loves us, of knowing how much he forgives us, of knowing what awaits us in heaven, is worth more than the greatest of riches.  As the Psalmist says today, "For I love your command more than gold (Psalm 119:127)."  But why do we go against the Lord's commands and his perfect will when he knows what is best for us?  Why do we seek treasures in other places when the greatest of treasures is right here on this altar?  Here we realize how much we are loved and how much God has blessed us.  Here we realize that we are His children called to take our gifts and do the extraordinary out in the world.  Perhaps the story of Mozart is a cautionary tale, at least from the movie's point of view, because it seems that he never appreciated the immense gift that God had given to him and he died young, penniless, consumed by the  world, and rather unaware of how much God loved him (sound familiar? #club27).  There are so many gifted people in our world with divine talents that could be used for good and that could bring them great joy and peace, but sadly they go looking for happiness in all the wrong places.  May we always be aware of His love and of the many blessings he bestows on us.  Solomon was aware of this which is why he only sought the wisdom to know what was right in the eyes of God so that he could always please Him.  Which brings us to two final questions:  If God approached you like Solomon ready to give you anything you wanted, what would you ask for?  And would you place that divine gift at the service of his Kingdom?