Today’s first reading and Gospel are a beautiful example of complementarity. The Old and New Testament are always complementary, but sometimes it’s more obvious than others in the Mass. The first reading from Proverbs asks two things of the Lord. First, “put falsehood and lying far from me.” Make me honest. Let me follow Your ways. Second, “give me neither poverty nor riches.” This one is the request that really struck me. The writer goes on to say, “provide me only with the food I need; Lest, being full, I deny you, saying, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or, being in want, I steal, and profane the name of my God.”
This request struck me, I think, because of the self-knowledge of the writer. The writer knows that they will feel ungrateful if everything is lavished upon them. When things are easy and freely given, then we become entitled. We think we get things on our own merit. But, on the other hand, the writer wants to depend on God. We don’t glorify God when we feel the need to take matters into our own hands. We can often feel so desperate in our needs that we grasp and scrounge so that we feel like we’re taken care of. I know I fall squarely into that camp all the time. But this demonstrates a lack of trust in the goodness of the Lord. What the writer of Proverbs desires here is not the feeling of being taken care of but the reality.
I’m sure the Twelve were overwhelmed by their neediness when they went out to proclaim the Kingdom. The just left, taking “nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic.” They needed to trust that God would give them just what they needed: no more so that they wouldn’t get entitled, and no less so that they wouldn’t take matters into their own hands.
The key to this is trust. They knew Jesus. They say the way that Jesus worked and depended on God. So when it came their turn to place all their trust in God, then they had an example. They become that example for us today. I ask you to take to prayer your reliance on God. Do you not worry because you feel entitled to God’s gift? Do you not worry because you have everything taken care of yourself? Do you worry because God seems fickle and might give or take with no rhyme or reason? Or do you truly believe in the God that loves you and has ordered everything for your good?
-Amanda Benner, Director of Evangelization