WE have a fascinating Old Testament reading (1 Kings 3-5, 7-12) for this Sunday’s Mass. The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night to tell him, “Ask something of me, and I will give it to you.”
Worried about the tremendous task of governing God’s people, the young Solomon answered, “Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.”
Pleased with this response, God said to him, “Because you have asked for this—not for a long life for yourself, nor riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right—I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you, there will come no one to equal you.”
Isn’t this the same gift that we should also ask from God—not for a long life, not for riches, but for an understanding and prudent heart to distinguish right from wrong? Every day we encounter many situations when we have to make choices and decisions, and the conflict that is always in our hearts is whether we are doing the right thing and fulfilling God’s will.
Be it a minor or a big decision regarding finance, vacation, career, or relationship, our hearts long for what is best for us according to God’s plan.
What we need to develop is a discerning heart.
In his book, “The Way of Goodness and Holiness,” Richard Gula speaks about discernment in this way: “A process of making a decision, discernment tests the ‘spirits,’ or the ‘movements of the heart,’ to detect which ones reflect God-prompted desires. To be out of touch with these desires is to be out of touch with the Holy Spirit, for the spiritual tradition of discernment of spirits has understood these murmurings of the heart as God’s way of connecting our human desires with the Holy Spirit. The goal of discernment is to discover the most fitting ways to express what our relationship to God demands of us so that we keep our lives in line with our deepest desire for God.”
What a beautiful way that Gula puts it to gauge the rightness of our choices and decisions. Indeed, do they keep our lives in line with our “deepest desire for God”?
Deep down inside our hearts is a hunger for God and a right relationship with him. Our task is to listen to these murmurings of the heart. We may not respond to them immediately and entirely, but as long as we are in that process of humbly seeking our desire for God, God looks at our hearts with mercy and fills it with his promises of love.
Ultimately, our goal is to reach this promise, the “treasure buried in the field,” the “the pearl of great price,” as the Gospel this Sunday relates to us. Once we find it, we’ll do anything to have it.
Meanwhile, we keep asking God for His guidance, patience, and kindness and setting our hearts for the unceasing desire for Him—for His will, His love, His peace, His joy. n
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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1991-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.