Reflection on the Daily Readings for 6/02/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Wed. of first week. Tobit 3:1-11a,16-17a.
Psalm25:2-4.4-5.6-7.8-9. Mark 12:18-27. Lectionary # 355:
Faith and fidelity are sustained by prayer and Tobit gives us a splendid
example of how to pray. Since he is familiar with the psalms his prayer is
a mirror of a psalm of supplication. It is the prayer of the poor of God.
This identifies Tobit even though we know he is not materially poor and
seems to have a certain abundance of possessions. He is poor in spirit. So
both in form and content he prays like the poor. Our prayers could be
helped by reflecting upon the psalm that is suggested in the liturgy today.
It is in the spirit of Tobit’s and helps us to enter into the story of this
pious person from the tribe of Napthali. Notice too that the city of
Ecbatana which is made famous in the deuterocanonical work of Judith is
also a key location in the story. We are learning much about the social
conditions and lifestyle of the Israelites from the second century before
Christ through this fictitious melodrama. Even though Jerome did not accept
it as canonical he did translate it and seems to have brought in some of
his own thoughts when it came to the ethical situation of the young woman
named Sarah who becomes part of the plot and tension within this delightful
and phantastic story. Seven men were prevented from marrying her because of
a jealous demon named Asmoneus! He must have been a handsome devil!
Tobiah, Tobit’s son wants to marry Sarah but knows of the fate of the
seven men. What should he do, what should she do? They both learn from
Tobit to pray and to pray intensely. This prevents Sarah from taking her
life (which part Jerome avoids in his translation) and eventually
introduces the healer of her situation. This is the archangel Raphael (the
“healer of God”). Sarah also is so impressed with Tobit that she does not
want to embarass him even more by taking her life.
God hears their prayers and sets in motion the upcoming developments
of the story and its plot. Raphael will come to the rescue! But all of the
characters who pray are delivered from their anxieties and sufferings.
In the Gospel we see that the Sadducees who do not believe in a
resurrection especially a bodily one bring up the example of a man who
married sevent times with each of the wives dying. Who will be his wife in
the afterlife is the mischievous and entrapment like question of the
Sadducees to Jesus. He who is the Resurrection and the life, rattles their
cages by telling them that there is no giving of marriage in heaven nor a
continuing of it but they will all be like the angels. Even more to the
point are Jesus’ words that end this pericope and give us hope in the
afterlife: “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the god of Jacob. He
is the God of the living, not of the dead. You are very much mistaken.”