The most prosperous king in the history of Israel was king Solomon. It was not David, the warrior, but his son under whom Israel enjoyed status, peace, and prosperity. And it is striking how the success of Solomon is rooted in the Temple, which he built. From our readings these days (1 Kings 8; 9) it is clear that the most important thing for Solomon was the life of the Temple. He prayed a lot in it. He made it beautiful. He supported it. All his political affairs were consulted with the divine Presence in it. He warned his people time and again that their prosperity will depend on the ‘quality of life’ which they live with God in their Temple. Forgiveness for capital failures, new beginnings will start from the Temple – this is their sole resource and sustenance.
This is a great teaching for us, too. The life and prayer we bring to our church, God will reciprocate it! If we bring forgiveness, attention to one another, if we welcome the stranger, we run our nursery, lunch club, bible group, and other social events: God is going to add to this his own life. Our life, our joys will be doubled.
So let us explore, what can we bring and add to the life of the House of God? Queen Sheba’s visit to Solomon highlights an important ‘element’ in the life of the church. This is personal spirituality. The queen ‘came in to Solomon, and told him all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her problems; there was not a problem overlooked by the king which he did not tell her.’ Solomon is so one with God’s wisdom and Holy Presence, that he becomes a ‘concessioner’, who listens, forgives, releases the queen from her worries. That is the ‘model’ of the sacrament or reconciliation. This is a sacrament (confessing our sins and sharing our hopes with God) which gives the person integrity. Just as the queen of Sheba was confirmed in her integrity with this holy conversation with Solomon.
This joy of our truer self, when we are truly who we are supposed to be, is so fresh in our reading. ‘The word is true then, which I heard on my country about your speech and your intelligence, and I failed to believe what those who spoke to me told me, until I came, and my eyes saw, and look! The half was not told me. Your good qualities utterly surpass the fame of which I had heard in my country.’
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..