Paul stands as a colossus in the development of human spirituality.
Here is an explicit dialogue between King Solomon and God. It illustrates one of the soundest results of that dialogue – humanity learns wisdom and learns also that the source of wisdom lies in the loving heart of God, whose sole desire is that we share His wisdom. It is amazing in depicting God as taking the initiative – it is not Solomon but God who appears in the dream; it is God who asks: ‘What would you like me to give you?’ The young man asks for a discerning heart to distinguish between good and evil. The author has the audacity to give us a peek into the heart of God: ‘It pleased the Lord.’ He gives Solomon a heart that is wiser and more shrewd than before or since. The storyteller’s art is at the service of that insight which the divine encounter brings – partnership in this relationship is the source of all human wisdom and that wisdom comes from God and is not man-made!
Paul is overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of what has been revealed to him. This wisdom, this insight into what God has done leads him to say the unsayable: ‘God co-operates with all those who love him… all those he has called according to his purpose.’ How could Paul go on to say that the result of the divine encounter not only culminates in Jesus, but that all humanity is meant, as a result of the incarnation, to “share his glory.” It is not possible to convey the immensity that Paul seeks to describe. Humanity is destined to share the glory which is God’s! In the history of the world in its dealings with the gods and the divine, this is a revolutionary overturning of the whole of humanity’s understanding of its relationship with the divine. Paul stands as a colossus in the development of human spirituality. Is it any wonder that the rumour had it that his first encounter with God through Jesus Christ – threw him off his horse! Paul redefines what humanity means by God. If we too easily now say that humanity shares the one origin and the one destiny in God – it is to Paul we must trace this wisdom. He passes on only what he received by being a partner in that on-going dialogue centred in his experience of Jesus the Christ.
Matthew has Jesus teaching about the Kingdom to the crowds but through them we can glimpse all humanity. He speaks of an inclusive kingdom, compared with a treasure, meant for everyone. Through the person who finds a treasure in a field, a merchant, the fishermen, the scribe, the householder – all well known to the crowds we can read “Everyman” – folk representing the whole of humanity. There are no longer Jews, much less Christians (Jesus knew no-one who was a Christian!) just folk of the world, all invited to find the ‘kingdom’, the wisdom, the glory of God. Jesus then says to them that the person who opens him or herself to following him which alone brings wisdom, is like a householder who (like Solomon and Paul) knows the value of everything, old and new – since all can now be seen in the context of the biggest picture – the kingdom of God. This is the only perspective which brings wisdom. Jesus is clear about the call and the invitation – but no one should be forced to say yes against their will. God is patient and will wait.