King Solomon had quite a few wives. Though it is no longer a practice in our culture or in our faith, it was the custom of the day and was a way for Israel to create treaties with the surrounding kings and countries. However, Solomon made the mistake of allowing his wives to bring their foreign and pagan gods and goddesses into Israel. Soon shrines or groves dedicated to these gods and goddesses began springing up in Israel. As a result, the people of Israel drifted away from the God of their ancestors. Their loyalties were divided. Consequently, God divided the country into two separate kingdoms, the kingdom of Judah to the south and the kingdom of Israel to the north. From the time of Solomon to the time of the Babylonian captivity, two Jewish kings ruled over God’s people.
The physical division of the country that had been Israel was occasioned by the division of their hearts. Rather than serving the God of their ancestors, the people served the foreign gods and goddesses of the surrounding countries. Of course, this violated the first and perhaps the most important of the commandments given by God on Mt. Sinai. “I am the Lord, your God. You shall not have any false gods before me.”
No one needs to tell us about divisions as they seem to abound in today’s world. We are divided in both our politics and in our faith. Though we pray for unity in faith and in our nation, until we all begin to serve God above all other considerations, unity will escape us. Philosophy, wealth, race, gender, and all sorts of other issues will continue to divide us until God’s law is accepted and observed.
This has to begin with each of us. Making God and God’s will our priority is the only way that we will come to any sort of unity. Our prayer today must be a prayer of repentance and return to God.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.