"The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now One greater than Solomon is here." (Mt. 12:42)
With these words, Jesus is challenging us to examine ourselves in order to see just how far we are willing to go in our own lives in order to seek out spiritual wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
We read about the Queen of Sheba in the 10th chapter of 1
Kings. When she heard about the fame of King Solomon,
the Bible states that she came to test him with hard questions. She talked with Solomon about all that she had on her mind, and Solomon was able
to answer all of her questions.
In fact, nothing was too hard for him to explain to her. When the Queen of Sheba recognized the wisdom of Solomon, she was completely overwhelmed. Turning to King Solomon, she made the following statement: "The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel! Because of the Lord's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness."
The Queen of Sheba was not a Jew; she was a Gentile. Yet, because she was so hungry for spiritual knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and truth, she was willing to travel from the ends of the earth in order to listen to Solomon's wisdom. Now, here was Jesus, the Living Word Himself, teaching eternal truths which He received from the Father to a people who professed to belong to God, yet were indifferent and filled with unbelief.
Although some in Israel put their faith in Christ, most did not. Although some in Israel sought Him out, many did not. Like many in the world today, they had places to go, people to see, and things to do.
Here in the United States, it's amazing what ridiculous lengths people will go to in order to catch a sale, especially during the Christmas holidays. Some stores will open up at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning to huge crowds waiting outside eager to "shop till they drop." Three o'clock in the morning!
There are people who will travel any length or pay any expense in order to see a certain specialist, even if seeing that specialist requires air travel. Others think nothing of shelling out huge amounts of money in order to purchase airline tickets and pay for hotel expenses just to attend the Super Bowl or other large sporting event. But what length will these same people go to in order to obtain spiritual wisdom, knowledge, understanding? What about those of us who profess to be in Christ? How hungry are we for heavenly things? To what extent are we willing to go in order to pursue wisdom, knowledge, and understanding?
How much time do we spend in our daily lives studying God's Word, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and other spiritual literature? Are we willing to rise a few hours earlier each day in order to do so? If we don't have the time in the morning, what about at night? If we have time to watch television several hours a day, we have time to pursue knowledge through study of the written Word.
The way in which we spend our spare time is a direct reflection of just how hungry we are for the things of God. If the bulk of our free time is spent pursuing sports, hobbies, and other recreational pursuits, while the Bible on the shelf collects dust, remains unopened, and turns yellow with age, how are we unlike the Jews in Jesus' day who also couldn't be bothered with the seeking of truth? And why couldn't they be bothered? Because they were too distracted with the cares, worries, and pleasures of this world in order to pursue that truth.
In his classic book, The Imitation of Christ, Thomas Kempis wrote as follows: "How is it that so many of us can hear the Gospel read out again and again with so little emotion? Because they haven't got the Spirit of Christ; this is why!" Hard words, yet well-spoken. Words which challenge us to examine our own attentiveness when the Word of God is being read at Mass. I recognize that sometimes during Mass it can be difficult to concentrate on the readings as they are being proclaimed, especially if there are children crying and other distractions taking place. Therefore, to ensure absorption of the readings at Sunday Mass, I study, meditate, and pray about them on Saturday night. I want to listen, really listen, to what the Spirit is saying to me through the Liturgy of the Word.
Jesus' words regarding our attentiveness and hunger for spiritual knowledge are piercing and convicting: "The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now One greater than Solomon is here."
These words were not just meant for the Jews in His day, but for those of us who profess to be in Christ. Just how serious are we in our pursuit of heavenly understanding? Are our hearts and minds set on things above, where Christ is seated at God's right hand or are they tangled and mired in the distractions of this world?
Are we willing to go to any length in order to obtain heavenly knowledge and understanding or will the Queen of the South stand up at the judgment and condemn us as well?
He who has spiritual ears to hear, let him hear what Christ is saying to His Church.
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