February 8, 2012 - Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

The story of our first reading today is both history and symbol. The queen of Sheba is like one of us: she goes from her native land to a land where she has heard that there are great wisdom and riches. That land is Israel, the Promised Land, a symbol of heaven. The king of that land is King Solomon, and he is a symbol of the Lord, the king of the kingdom of heaven. This is fully appropriate since King Solomon received his wisdom from the Lord, so it is the Lord’s wisdom which the queen of Sheba hears.

The queen brought questions to the king. I think that many of us have a few questions we would like answered. Let us believe confidently that just as King Solomon was able to explain ever question which came from the heart of the queen, so God someday will be able to explain to us every question in our hearts.

After the king had answered every question that the queen asked, he showed her the riches of the kingdom. She is impressed not only by what the king possesses but by how the royal ministers are seated and how the royal servants are dressed. When we visit the kingdom of heaven, we will be impressed by how the saints are seated and how beautiful the angels are.

Last of all, when she saw what was offered in the Temple of the Lord, she was breathless. Someday our breath will be taken away when we finally understand the sacrifice of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The queen had heard stories in her native land about the kingdom and King Solomon, but she had thought them too fantastic to be true. Now she sees that they did not capture half of the truth. When we hear descriptions of heaven, let us not think that such descriptions exaggerate how wonderful heaven is. The reality of heaven far exceeds anything that we can imagine.

But the queen did not show up empty-handed. No, she brought 120 talents of gold and a great deal of spices and jewels which she gave to the king. While we are here, preparing to visit the kingdom of heaven, we must get ready a gift for the king: gold by which the king is glorified, spices which are the fruit of our labors, and jewels which beautify the soul and are formed by the heat and pressure of suffering.