This blog proides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news:
VIOLENCE RAGES AMIDST SYRIAN TALKS
Sayings of Agur
30The words of Agur son of Jakeh. An oracle.
I am weary, O God, I am weary, O God. How can I prevail?*
2 Surely I am too stupid to be human; I do not have human understanding.
3 I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the hHolt One.*
4 Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in the hollow of the hand?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name? And his surname? Surely you know!
5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
6 Do not add to his words, or else he will rebuke you, and you will be found a liar.
7 Two things I ask of you; do not deny them to me before I die:
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that I need,
9 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.
The origin of these proverbs is unknown, we have no infrormation about Agur. Yet his words are wise, recognising the limits of human wisdom and emphasising in a way reminiscent of the book of Job the mystery of God’s wisdom in creation. The words of God which are “seen” in his creation and heard in the Torah are sufficient wisdom for humankind. The two things Agur prays for turn out to be three: deliverance from deceit, riches and poverty. Deceit comes from human arrogance, which in turn is bolstered by riches. The poor are forced into the deceit of theft in order to survive. This down -to- earth wisdom is not far from Jesus whose prayer invites reverence for God and God’s rule while asking enough food for each day. It is good medicine for the habitual arrogance of rich societies.
Jesus before Pilate
28 Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters.* It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters,* so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover.29So Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’30They answered, ‘If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.’31Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.’ The Jews replied, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death.’32(This was to fulfil what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)
33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters* again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’34Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’35Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’36Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’37Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’38Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him.
John’s Gospel makes clear the politics of Jesus in contrast with the politics of Pilate. John does not depict Pilate as a bad man; rather as a realist who sees a world ruled by the power of Caesar and can only conceive of opposition to Caesar as violent. Jesus clearly denies that he is the sort of ruler who engages in violent opposition. But he does not deny that he is a ruler. The world that Jesus sees is not one dimensional: his kind of rule comes into this world from beyond this world and is expressed in the truth he represents-the truth of God’s goodness which allows human beings to see their sin and their need. Pilate dismisses that sort of rule as unreal: it doesn’t count in his world. This passage connects with the one from Proverbs in its critique of human arrogance, in this case the arrogance of power which cannot imagine any other kind of power than its own. The message of the brave people who have created the “Arab Spring” is that truth is its own power. Repressive regimes today are wiser than Pilate in recognising the danger of truth and attempting to prevent its communication.