13Feb 13 February, 2020. Thursday of Week 5

1st Reading: 1 Kings 11:4-13

Solomon sins; and as punishment his kingdom will be divided

When Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon followed Astarte the goddess of the Sidonians and Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not completely follow the Lord, as his father David had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who offered incense and sacrificed to their gods.

Then the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this matter, that he should not follow other gods; but he did not observe what the Lord commanded. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my laws that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of your father David I will not do it in your lifetime; I will tear it from the hand of your son. I will not, however, tear away the entire kingdom; I will give your son one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”

Responsorial: Psalm 106

Response: O Lord, remember us, for the love you have for your people.

They are happy who do what is right,
who at all times do what is just.
O Lord, remember me
out of the love you have for your people.

But instead they mingled with the nations
and learned to act like them.
They worshipped the idols of the nations
and these became a snare to entrap them.

They even offered their own sons
and their daughters in sacrifice to demons,
till his anger blazed against his people:
he was filled with horror at his chosen ones.

Gospel: Mark 7:24-30

By her persevering faith, a Syro-Phoenician woman induces Jesus to cure her daughter

Jesus he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house but wanted nobody to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, for a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syro-phoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” The he said to her, “For saying that, you may go – the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed and the demon gone.


May your words, O Lord be on my lips and in my heart. May they guide me on life’s journey and keep me near to you.

Falling into foolishness

King Solomon fell away from the height of wisdom to the depth of foolishness. While still a young man, he was invited by God to ask for anything he wished and it would be granted. It didn’t take him long to demonstrate his exceptional wisdom. A very hard case was put before him for trial. Two prostitutes were disputing which of them was the mother of a living baby, for the other child had died. Solomon decreed that, since each insisted that the living baby was hers, they should cut it in half and each could take a half. Objecting to this verdict one of the women cried out, “No! Please give her the child. Don’t kill it.” The other woman said, “It shall be neither mine nor yours. Let us divide it between us.” Solomon said, “Give the child to the first woman, for she’s the real mother.” He knew that the real mother would want her child to live, even if it wasn’t assigned to her.

Unfortunately, Solomon’s wisdom didn’t last into his old age. We cannot blame his later decadence on his foreign wives (for he used his royal prerogative to have seven hundred of them!) His downfall was not just because of his wives, even if they helped to lead him astray. His own bad choices led Solomon from being an icon of wisdom to becoming a foolish despot who caused his nation to split in two He is a classic example of how our choices shape us into the kind of person we become, for good or ill. After hearing his story, we pray for wisdom and temperance for ourselves and our families.

What a contrast between Solomon and Jesus. Solomon’s harem of pagan women led him into apostasy. On the other hand, a pagan woman surprises Jesus with her faith and humble perseverance.
These stories invite us to think about the interaction of mutual dependence between the sexes, in family as well as in the wider circle of friendship. Our identity as men or women is part of who we are. It helps us to fulfil each other in various ways and to encourage each other to fulfil our potential. In the creation story in the Book of Genesis the first couple fulfilled each other because both are made in the image of God.

At first Jesus totally ignored the request of the Syro-Phoenician woman and then said harshly that it is “not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” It’s hard to explain this, except that he was aware of Solomon’s being led astray by foreign women. But this gruff response is changed by the woman’s perseverance and her obvious love for her child. His reference to throwing the children’s food to the dogs was countered by her mild reply: “Yes, but even the dogs under the table eat the family’s leavings.” This clever answer from a tenacious heart overcame his objections, so Jesus did what she asked and healed her daughter – a splendid example of faith and perseverance rewarded.

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