St Paul the Apostle Orthodox Church
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Weekly Message 06-13-10: Third Sunday After Pentecost

Third Sunday

Our Lord shares with us today some not so literal home-spun heavenly wisdom when He reminds us, "See how the lilies of the field grow; they neither labor nor spin, yet I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of these" Matthew 6: 29. Our Lord wishes to remind his listeners about the former kings given earlier to the chosen people because of their blind insistence. They wanted to be like people of the world, not God's people. They demanded a king and the Lord granted their wish which is a reminder even to us this day to be careful what we pray for. The Jews got their prayer answered and then didn't know how to respond appropriately to it. The first king, Saul was followed by David who bequeathed the throne to his son Solomon who then left it for his son Rehoboam at which time the entire kingdom was divided and shattered in three short generations. That is all it took for people to realize they had no clue how to be responsible cities of an earthly kingdom which would prepare them for heavenly citizenship.

Although he commanded cities and seaports to be built, he is especially recognized for building the temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 6). He is believed to have written many of the proverbs in the book of Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes was composed in his honor. Although he was endowed with great wisdom, he personally behaved very foolishly by marrying women who turned him away from God (1 Kings 11), since he thought as king there are no limitations to his lifestyle or behavior and thus he flaunted his authority before the people and castigated our God as a result.

Thus Solomon began to worship false gods and idols, so the prophet Abijah predicted that one of his officials would rebel and take away the ten tribes from the kingdom and that is exactly what happened. From then until the time of our Lord the kingdom is divided, separated, at odds with one another because the people's choice turned out to be the abysmally wrong choice, as is almost always the case in human history. People's votes mean nothing in the sight of our God. The majority can most of the time witness for evil and sin just as easily for good and morality. It is God's word alone that is unchangeable and immutable; the value of God's promises that are vital and certainly not man's foolish interpretation and outlook.

When our Lord surveys the gradiosity of creation, He immediately concludes even the flowers of the field, in all their created unique incomparable glory by far exceed what Solomon in his limited earthly splendor tried to accomplish simply because it was all tainted with his sinful, carnal baseness. Values of the world have no consideration in the outlook of our Creator God. Therefore the Lord enunciates plainly, "You cannot serve God and mammon."

In one of the most incredible moments of God's revelation to us in Scripture, the Lord of Israel, the Creator of the universe makes an offer to a mortal man, that is to Solomon, the son of David and newly anointed king of Israel. Just like the archtypical genie in the bottle, our God asks Solomon to make a wish. But Solomon's historic opportunity becomes his greatest tragedy.

This may also be one of the saddest stories in the Bible.

It is the account of a man who literally had every thing. The only thing more difficult to comprehend than his great mind, his talents, his enormous wealth and overwhelming power were the prospects of what he could have done with these gifts. Solomon had the incredible capability to change the world for the cause of God. And so our Lord looks at an ordinary flower and witnesses from heaven's perspective that the simple bloom is far more radiant, far more glorious, far more compelling, far more notable, far more successful in God's scheme of things than the munificently unheard of and richly endowed Solomon. What a lesson for us to learn that the simple flower looks better to God than some of us with our self-perceived worth and inflated value! A few colored petals appeal to their Creator more than the prime creation of God, made in his actual image, but hell-bent on self exaltation and self-destruction!

In spite of doing many good things during his lifetime, Solomon actually squandered his potential. He built a name for himself. Ask anyone to finish this sentence : "That guy over there has the wisdom of          " and everyone will be able to fill in the blank.

But what happened to Solomon? Why does our Lord use him as an example to be avoided? The reason for the pathetic failure is actually quite clear. He broke the commandment: "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God" Exodus 20: 4, 5.

Solomon should have known better and in fact he did know better. As his father, David was dying, Solomon heard these words: "Observe what the Lord God requires; walk in his ways and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go."

Some how Solomon thought he could be an exception, the one who could break and flaunt God's law without suffering the consequences. But our God did not ignore all the idols, all the fake altars set up to please foreign faithless wives, pagan women who, in pleasing his lustful desires, were permitted to introduce paganism and idolatry to the people, thus equating God with a stone idol!

What an indictment our Lord makes of some of the practices of his unfortunate ancestor! Man in all his created glory, with his reasoning mind and exalted intellect loses in comparison to the primal and elementary flower which faithfully grows only where it is planted and fulfills totally and completely the entire story of its plant nature. In being faithful to itself; it is faithful to its Maker. It does in fact do what God created it to do; it blooms and inspires the soul of reflective man to obedience before the throne of our Saviour. It has but one will and eagerly submits itself to fulfill the desire of its Maker and Creator and exalt his glory. It responds generously to the light of the Son and grows by invigorating the mind and heart of man.

What a contrast in challenge for every human being who looks upon a plain flower and practices some introspection of its meaning in the world! What a difference in inspiration of Solomon for the emperor Justinian who built the glorious and august basilica of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople and on the day of its consecration, permitted to fall from his lips, "Solomon, I have surpassed you!" In reality he says, "I join you in readily accepting limited human understanding and join the chorus of human pride and human exaltation."

Let us learn from the mind of our Saviour. From the least in creation, the ordinary flower is exalted to the greatest on earth! From the smallest to the most splendid! What a humbling and loving experience that the Son of God takes the time to resettle us in our rightful place before the throne of Almighty God! May his all-holy name be glorified forever among us!

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