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Last week on Thursday, that is, one week ago, we read our First Reading from 1 Kings 2:1-4.10-12 in which David just before exiting the earth positively advised his son Solomon to be strong and to walk in the ways of the Lord by telling him," Keep the charge of the Lord your God, walk in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments and his testimonies as it written in the law of Moses." David also told Solomon, “Be strong and show yourself a man. "While reflecting on that reading we wondered:

•Did David sense some weakness in Solomon?

•Did he notice that Solomon would be tested in far greater ways than him?

•Did David sense some greatness in Solomon that he wanted him to maintain?

Whatever the exact reason was, David knew that Solomon needed strength and courage.

Let us also remember that Solomon himself asked God to give him an understanding mind to be able to govern God's people - 1 Kings 3:4-11 and this understanding or wisdom made the queen of Sheba to travel to Jerusalem to test Solomon with hard questions and she was totally impressed by him - 1 Kings 1:1-10.

However, in today's First Reading something is inappropriate and out of place in Solomon's life because it is recorded that when he was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. Despite his father's words of advice, despite his own request to be given an understanding to be able to govern God's people and despite the queen of Sheba being captivated by his wisdom, Solomon's heart still turned away from God and let us remember that in yesterday's Gospel reading Jesus said that what comes from the heart of a man is what defiles a man - Mark 7:24-30 and the heart is the seat of deliberation and rationalizing.

If Solomon's heart turned away from the Lord his God, it is because he was unequally yoked to/with his wives.

To be unequally yoked is to be out of sync in one way or another and here Solomon is spiritually out of sync with his wives in that he worshipped God but they worshipped other gods and made him follow their way.

When oxen are unequally yoked, it means they cannot perform the task ahead of them. Instead of working together, they will be at odds with one another. If two oxen are yoked together with the task of pulling a plow but are different in size, strength or experience then their work will be drastically affected and that is why Solomon's faith was compromised.

The yoke is like a burden. It is an influence too strong to overcome.

In our daily human interactions, we will be with people who may not be believers or even if they are they tend to have different world views from our faith on matters such as morality, work ethics, politics and governance, marriage and raising up of children. What if you are yoked to such people the way Solomon was to his wives but not only in marriage but in other aspects of life? How will you cope? In 1 Corinthians 7:14, Paul writes that a believer can sanctify the one with whom they are unequally yoked and is not a believer but if that person decides to walk away or to remain obstinate, just let him or her go and you will be under no bondage and we can take it as a learning moment, a moment of our faith being stretched to other limits.


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