|Tobit 12:1, 5-15,
Tobit 13:2, 6
Raphael Reveals His Identity “…I have already said to you, ‘A king’s secret it is prudent to keep, but the works of God are to be made known with due honor.’…”
Tobit’s Song of Praise “…When you turn back to him with all your heart, to do what is right before him, then he will turn back to you, and no longer hide his face from you. So now consider what he has done for you, and praise him with full voice. Bless the Lord of righteousness, and exalt the King of the ages....”
Denunciation of the Scribes, and The Poor Widow’s Contribution “…Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”
Feast of St. Ephrem of Edessa, Deacon and Doctor, born in 306 in Nisibis (Syria), Mesopotamia. His fame rests on his writings and his hymns; he is thought to be largely responsible for introducing hymns into public worship, being called the Harp of the Holy Spirit. He is also attributed with founding a theological school in Edessa. (Saints ‘O the Day website)
One of the things I find very interesting to observe is other people’s walk with the Lord. That might be why the readings in the Book of Tobit were so interesting to me, as today we finished up the week of readings in that book. I found myself wanting to go back and read the rest of the story, so I went back to Chapter 1. Listening to Tobit’s day to day interaction with the Lord made having that kind of a relationship with God, more real to me. It’s hard to describe, but it felt like God was as much a part of Tobit’s life as his own family and kinsmen were to him. His deep concern for others was a concrete description of love for me, as I was privileged to observe through the writing, this man’s trust and constant calling upon the Lord into his day-to-day life.
I don’t remember ever listening to Tobit’s story before, his name means “God is good,” and he was a man who shared much of his wealth. His call to give alms, and not store up more than you need; his care for those who died to make sure they were buried; and his instructions to his son to pay workers a just wage and on a timely basis were a few of the lessons that were shared in the writings. As is his relationship with the Lord, Tobit is unconditionally loyal to his kinsmen for which we saw many examples. When Tobit suffers blindness, he asks the Lord to take back his life, and that message is carried to the Lord in Heaven by Raphael, “one of seven angels who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord.” (Tobit 12:15) This too, was an interesting glimpse of how our prayers find their way to our Maker. Tobit’s prayer is answered, but not in the way he requests. Instead of releasing him from his miserable life in the world, God restores Tobit’s sight and he is able to see his new daughter-in-law, who has married his only son. The angel Raphael reveals his heavenly identity to the family, who had thought he was a hired hand. They thought they were hiring Raphael to help Tobias travel to Rages, to Gabael’s household and get back a part of the family fortune, which Gabael had been keeping safe for 20 some years.
And then after hearing of Tobit’s generous nature, we hear in Mark’s Gospel about the widow who Jesus observes putting in two small coins while others put in much more. Jesus tells His disciples, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.” (Mark 12:43) She had given from her poverty. Her actions are remarkable to me.
Through the many examples of generosity we are given today, let us reflect on what the Lord is asking of us. As we can see, He doesn’t call everyone to the same level of sacrifice. Let us remember the Lord’s generosity and how He loves a generous giver. In helping us to hear God’s Spirit, I’ll close with a few words from St. Ephrem, in the prayer he wrote from today’s Office of Readings.
…Savior, your crucifixion marked the end of your mortal life; teach us to crucify ourselves and make way for our life in the Spirit. May your resurrection, Jesus, bring true greatness to our spiritual self and may your sacraments be the mirror wherein we may know that self…” (Office of Readings, June 9th, from a sermon by St. Ephrem, deacon, pg. 1460)
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