Growing up in a Catholic family, I was taught since childhood that whenever I visited a Church for the first time, I was allowed to make three wishes. I can say that I did this quite faithfully. I never really questioned it then since it was to my benefit and I chose to believe in it. I thought that was part of the Catholic tradition because I also heard that my friends were told the same.

Till today I am not too sure where this “tradition” originated from, but I know that people still do it. Sometimes I wonder if this was started to prevent people from walking around a new Church out of curiosity and encourage prayer? Anyways, I am not advocating this but take a moment to think… If God granted you three wishes, what would they be? I am sure there is much we would like to ask God to grant us.

In the first reading today, we hear that the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, ‘Ask what you would like me to give you.’ This was like striking the jackpot… like ‘finding a genie in the bottle’. Some may have thought it was a foolish and wasted request because of all the things Solomon could have asked for, he says, “give your servant a heart to understand how to discern between good and evil”. However, for Solomon that was the most important thing that he needed so as to be able to govern his kingdom and its people. From then on, Solomon would be known for his wisdom.

The gospel today speaks about discovering the treasures of the Kingdom and in this context the treasure is not in reference to some form of material possession or gain. In fact, unknown to His audience, Christ is the treasure of treasures and what Jesus has to offer is beyond anything that is quantifiable.

From our own experiences, we know that man and woman, by nature are creatures of curiosity. We are always seeking something new, something more rewarding, something far more comfortable. It is akin to St Augustine saying, “our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” (Augustine, Confessions, Book 1), though the context is far different.

In a world where we are presented with many choices, perhaps the greatest wish that we can make to God is like that of Solomon, the ability to choose wisely, good over evil, treasure over junk. The parable of the wheat and darnel that we read last Sunday reminds us that good and evil exists side by side and there are times when we cannot tell the difference because evil is most often deceivingly presented as a good to the undiscerning mind.

If we keep praying for the “treasure” to be able to discern good over evil in all things, then we begin to “produce good fruits” because “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:17-18). So the next time you visit a church for the first time, or making a wish before blowing out the candles on your birthday cake, or so happen to see a shooting star on a clear night, do not forget to wish for the ability to discern wisely because that is what will help us get to the treasure of all treasures, Jesus Christ. Amen.

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (26 July 2020)