In the first reading from Proverbs, the writer calls out and requests from God a mixed bag. He says “[p]ut falsehood and lying far from me, give me neither poverty or riches; provide me only with the food I need.” He requests this so that he doesn’t deny God because he’s satiated, nor steal from need.
The lying part? Sure. Who wants to be a liar? Unless, of course it’s convenient and we feel we need to for any variety of justifiable reasons. Why should we admit when we’ve done something wrong? When we’ve forgotten a friend’s party, a work assignment, a family obligation? Why can’t we embrace a little of that old falsehood?
And falsehood stretches beyond verbal misrepresentations. We can be false in how we act, how we present ourselves to the world, or even to ourselves. Are we afraid to say what we feel? Act how we believe to be right? Do we stay silent when we could speak up for our beliefs?
If the first request is palatable, well this second one is perplexing. Neither poverty nor riches? Poverty is a circumstance few willingly take on. Poverty of material possessions, that is. I confess I’m often impoverished spiritually when I don’t spend time in prayer or before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration regularly. My being feels empty and hungry in a way only God can fill. But material riches and an abundance of wealth? Why deny ourselves that?
The writer is so wise: when we are satisfied and feel in control of our own needs, why do we need God? God’s a nice figure on the wall, a nice concept in the clouds. When we are full, when we are satiated, when we feel wanting nothing, it’s hard to remember we actually do need God. We barely remember to express gratitude and appreciation for those visibly present in our lives, much less our Creator God.
So today let’s pray for not too much, not too little, for just what God knows is right for us. And try to focus on being sincere and avoiding those easy lies and feints that draw us further and further from Our Lord.
Nell O'Leary is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom to three lovelies. She and her husband live in the great city of Saint Paul. You can find out more about her here.