Read 1 Kings 11:4-13, Ps. 106:3-4,35-37,40, Mark 7:24-30

“There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” (Mark 7:14-15)

Our first reading today brings us to the evening time of Solomon’s life. It was a time of leisure and success. Like David, Solomon completely relaxed his moral guard, yet unlike David, Solomon wasn’t remorseful for once. It is important to note that Solomon never struggled for the throne; he never experienced hardship like David, his father. We humans do not value whatever we get on a platter of gold. Could this be why Jesus tested the Syrophoenician woman in today’s Gospel passage? What can we learn from Solomon’s downfall?

1. Learn to Manage Success: We all crave success and desire to be rich, powerful and self-actualized. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualisation is at the peak of all human needs, but he noted that only a few persons manage to attain this height. While we all dream of a life of success and unending leisure, the reality is that such a life is extremely difficult to maintain. We have seen stories of people who won lotteries only to quickly return to far worse conditions.

I recently watched a video clip of Ed Sheeran, where he said, “We learn nothing from success. We learn everything from our failures. No one talks about failure. It is like a shame. Failure is a shame. No one goes, ‘What do we learn from it?’ Meanwhile, with success, everyone shouts about it. There is nothing in success. Success happens after failing hundreds of times.” Denzel Washington says: “Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship.” We all must answer: “How prepared am I for success?” In other words, will I still be myself or suddenly become a beast?

2. Be Content, Seek Satisfaction in God: What was Solomon doing with seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines? No wonder St. Augustine would say: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God.” Whether we like it or not, nothing can give us true satisfaction. The mistake we make is to assume that the more we get, the merrier we become. St. John teaches us: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world, the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride in riches comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away.” (1 John 2:15-17). Although African culture favours polygamy, let’s face it: one woman is enough for one man.

3. Stop Trying to Please Everybody: Even if Solomon wanted to beat the world record of wives and concubines, why did he have to build temples for their gods? This brings us to the danger of relativism. We now accept everyone’s opinion to please people while failing to take a firm stand on the truth. This error is destroying the world today. A man wakes up one morning and says: “I am now a woman”, and the world celebrates him (or her). Then someone would say: “I am neither male nor female.” Let us avoid repeating Solomon’s error. Stop trying to please people. It is better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you are not.

4. Appreciate Your Days of Suffering (SAPA): God appeared to Solomon twice to warn him, but Solomon remained adamant. Why did Solomon refuse to listen to God? He had no memories of hardship. He didn’t have a past that scared him. When David was on the run from Absalom, he remembered how Saul chased him everywhere, and he cried. He begged God not to let him return to being a fugitive in his old age. Solomon had it all smooth.

Is it tough for you right now? God knows exactly what He is doing. The same Jesus that raised a dead man to life after seeing his mother’s tears (Cf. Luke 7:12-15) made life tough for the Syrophoenician woman. Learn from her humility. Be inspired by her wisdom. Life is a game; understand the rules and play along. Keep faith alive. There is no need to become angry with God. This story also shows how much a true mother will go to save her daughter. It reminds us of Jairus, a synagogue official (probably advanced in age) who knelt to beg Jesus to save his daughter. Many children do not know the sacrifices their parents have endured for them. If they knew, they would worship their parents.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, make me pure and holy. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Thursday of week 5 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: 1 Kings 11:4-13, Ps. 106:3-4,35-37,40, Mark 7:24-30).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu