Psalm 119:29, 72, 89, 101, 104, 163
The Book of Proverbs concludes with the words of Agur (30:1-33); the words of Lemuel (31:1-9); and the praise of a good wife (31:10-31). Today’s First Reading is taken from the words of Agur.
Agur begins with questions that challenge his listener to see that God’s power and wisdom surpass them. He asks: “Who has ascended to the heaven and come down?”; “Who has gathered the wind in his fists?”; “Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?”; “Who has established all the ends of the earth?”: “What is his name, and what is his son’s name?” (Proverbs 30:4).
The first question implies that no human being has acquired divine, heavenly wisdom. Only Jesus can claim such wisdom (John 3:13) (see Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, 51). The second, third and fourth questions contemplate the magnitude of God’s creation – it too surpasses man. The last question about the son of God is difficult to understand, but with the coming of Christ, however, we know that God has an eternal Son.
Man receives divine wisdom from God and every Word of God is trustworthy. When we hear the Word of God and accept it, it becomes for us a shield since it protects us from false and evil ways. Agur’s petition is full of humility. He asks to be removed from falsehood and to receive only what he needs. He feels that if he is poor he will be tempted to steal and that if he is rich he will be tempted to forget his dependence on God.
The Apostles are sent out to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God, to cast out demons, to heal the sick and cure disease. This power and authority does not come from themselves, but from God. Jesus gives them power and authority. The Apostles are to rely on God’s Providence. The way they are sent out is itself a proclamation of the Kingdom.
By not taking a walking stick, money or second tunic, they proclaim God’s Lordship over creation and proclaim his Providence. They proclaim the dominion of God. God is God – He is in charge: he holds in his heads the threads of the world. God is acting now in our lives. He is a living God (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, vol. I, 55-60). Where God is absent, nothing can be good. Where God is not seen, man and the world fall to ruin (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, vol. I, 145).
In the Old Testament, then, Agur proclaims the greatness of God’s wisdom and power as well as man’s dependence on God, who cares for man and protects him. In the New Testament, the Apostles testify to the coming of the Kingdom of God through miraculous signs, which testify to the end of the reign of evil and sin, and through their poverty, they testify to God’s providential care.
The Apostles share directly in Jesus’ mission to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom; they will witness the glory of the Kingdom on Mount Tabor; they will witness the inauguration of the Kingdom at the Last Supper and on the Cross; they will be sent out after the Resurrection and Pentecost to proclaim and extend the Kingdom established by Christ.
Readers may contact Fr Jason Mitchell at email@example.com.