Memory of the Church

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.
.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

1 Kings 11,4-13

When Solomon grew old his wives swayed his heart to other gods; and his heart was not wholly with Yahweh his God as his father David's had been. Solomon became a follower of Astarte, the goddess of the Sidonians, and of Milcom, the Ammonite abomination. He did what was displeasing to Yahweh, and was not a wholehearted follower of Yahweh, as his father David had been. Then it was that Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, on the mountain to the east of Jerusalem, and to Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who offered incense and sacrifice to their gods. Yahweh was angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from Yahweh, God of Israel, who had twice appeared to him and had forbidden him to follow other gods; but he did not carry out Yahweh's order. Yahweh therefore said to Solomon, 'Since you have behaved like this and have not kept my covenant or the laws which I laid down for you, I shall tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. For your father David's sake, however, I shall not do this during your lifetime, but shall tear it out of your son's hands. Even so, I shall not tear the whole kingdom from him. For the sake of my servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen, I shall leave your son one tribe.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

"Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not completely follow the Lord, as his father David had done." In this judgment lies the reason for the sad end of Solomon and his kingdom. But this did not happen by accident or even suddenly. Sin, like conversion, has its own story linked to the heart of every believer. And it is never a story devoid of relationships with others: we are all mutually linked both for good and evil. Solomon had allowed himself to be attracted and then dominated by the perverse logic that takes over whenever one surrenders to pride. It begins with slavery by money and wealth, and then moves on to a lack of respect for others, and then to personal satisfaction that finds its peak in sexuality. Solomon builds an enormous harem. It is true that for an ancient monarch this was expression of wealth and power, especially if women came from other peoples. But the problem was compounded because this bondage of money, wealth, and sex, brought Solomon's heart away from God. It is no coincidence that the author notes, at the beginning, that Solomon "loved" not only the Pharaoh's daughter but many others. And it was they who "turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not true to the Lord his God." The problem is always the heart. Jesus too will say: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Mt 6:21). For Solomon, his heart was no longer in God: giving in to pride and love for himself took him far. If he had listened to and accepted what the Word of God said in Deuteronomy he would not have fallen into idolatry. The Deuteronomist prescribes about the king: "He must not acquire many horses for himself, or return the people to Egypt in order to acquire more horses ... or else his heart will turn away; also silver and gold he must not acquire in great quantity for himself" (Dt 17:16-17). Solomon transgresses these provisions: he brings horses from Egypt; he obtains great wealth. Solomon allows himself to be so carried away by the pride of power that he leaves no room for either the Lord or his mercy. David had sinned too, but he recognized his sin by listening to the prophet and asked for forgiveness. Solomon ended in sadness, and his children paid for his sin with the steep price of kingdom's division.