Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words, or else he will rebuke you, and you will be found a liar.
Two things I ask of you; do not deny them to me before I die:
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that I need,
or I shall be full, and deny you, and say, "Who is the Lord?"
or I shall be poor, and steal, and profane the name of my God.
Keep me, Lord from the way of error
and teach me your law.
The law from your mouth means more to me
than silver and gold. (R./)
Your word, O Lord, for ever
stands firm in the heavens.
I turn my feet from evil paths
to obey your word. (R./)
I gain understanding from your precepts
and so I hate false ways.
Lies I hate and detest
but your law is my love. (R./)
Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money — not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them." They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
Proverbs has a sober message for wealthy and powerful people, marked by fierce determination to get ahead of their competitors. Armed with whatever prestige or learning we may have acquired, human nature is tempted to twist the law and distort truth to our own benefit and to the harm of others. We can easily grow greedy, and as Proverbs says elsewhere, greed, like lust, starves the soul (Prov 13.19). We need to be warned – and we are! These words were not minted for the low income days of recession!
We sense a glow of confidence in Jesus as he sends out the Twelve, to drive out demons, cure diseases and proclaim the reign of God. As traveling preachers they need to trust in people's generosity, so they need not carry bread or money, not even staff and traveling bag. In our own lives, whenever we meet such joyful confidence, we should thank God. Occasionally the shadow of a living saint crosses our path even in our parish or our acquaintances. We should encourage their ideals, support them, receive them into our homes. Then the reign of God will be at our doorstep.
When Jesus sends out the twelve on mission, he calls on them to travel light. They are not to be too self-sufficient, but instead they should depend on the hospitality of those to whom they preach the gospel. Rather than be fully furnished with everything, they are to leave space for themselves to become reliant on others, to become reliant on the Lord present to them in others. We all like to be independent and self-reliant to some extent, and, indeed, we need to be.
Today's gospel reminds us that we can never be fully self-reliant. We began life completely dependent on others, and as we come towards the end of our life we can find ourselves once more completely dependent on others. Yet, even between these two moments of high dependence, we continue to depend on others in so many ways. Throughout our lives we depend on others to bring to us what we do not have within ourselves. We can make the mistake of trying to go it alone and depriving ourselves of rich resources that others can bring to us. The Lord is always inviting us to be open to the service that he renders us in and through others. Each one of us has much to give and much to receive. The Lord who wants to serve others through us also wants to serve us through others.