9th Week, Ordinary Time, Wednesday, June 2
Tobit 3:1-11, 16-17 / Mark 12:18-27
Tobit prays to God; God heard Tobit's Prayer.
Today's reading is like a play with three acts. In the first act, Tobit becomes so depressed that he asks God to save him from his troubles, even if it means death.In the second act, a woman named Sarah suffers from a situation similar to Tobit's. One misfortune after another strikes her, leaving her depressed and ready to kill herself. In her anguish she does what Tobit does; she turns to God in prayer. This brings us to the third act. God hears the prayers of both Tobit and Sarah and sends the angel Raphael (the name means "God heals") to cure Tobit's blindness and to free Sarah from her deep depression.
How do we handle trouble when it comes, especially when we don't seem to deserve it? Jesus said, "Ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Luke 11:9
God is near to those who trust in him and cry out their anguish to him in their hour of need. This is one of the several lessons that the edifying romance of Tobit tries to convey.
With arguments that are a bit difficult to follow, Jesus upholds the resurrection of the dead. God is a God of the living; his promises are not given in vain. Jesus is harsh with those who are interested in religion for the sake of arguing about doctrine but are not interested in faith.
“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”
This response for the Psalm of the day captures Tobit and Sara’s philosophy of life. In their tragedies, they lift their souls in pain and hope to God. To whom else can they pour out their deepest agonies? Anyone who trusts in God with such faith will not be disappointed. God listens to their cry and reorders their lives so that seeming tragedies become fertile grounds for a greater blessing. The stories of Tobit and Sara testify to this truth. The woman in the gospel, who was married to seven brothers, might have been as heartbroken as Sara. Jesus tells us that her life in the resurrection would be very different from how it was for her on earth. If the world truly understood the Scriptures and the power of God, there would be no loss of hope among us. Let us pray for such understanding in human hearts.
The Sadducees were what we would call today the political party of the aristocrats. Most members of the Sanhedrin, the high priests and the priests, belonged to it. They did not believe in life after death. Here they show themselves as superficial. They ridicule the religious belief of the resurrection. Jesus ignores their mockery and explains three aspects of man's final destiny. There is a life after death. Jesus tells them they know neither the scripture nor the power of God. If they knew the power of God, they would understand scripture too. Their idea of God is too small. If he is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, those three patriarchs must be alive, otherwise he is the God only of some dead men. This life after death is different from the present life. It follows different biological laws. The risen have but a spiritual body. They are like the angels. Marriage is only for this earth. Human life on earth is only a preparation for heaven.
Every time when people say "luckily" or "by chance" or "it so happened", it is interesting to know what is in their minds when they say it. But we should know that when people say "lucky" or "by chance" or it so happened, that is when God chose to remain anonymous. God chose to remain anonymous maybe because those people may not be ready to acknowledge that He is in control of all things and that He has a plan for all things and for all situations. In the 1st reading, we heard that "It chanced on the same day that Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, also heard insults from one of her father's maids". Tobit and Sarah were in distress over their predicament. Yet the 1st reading used the phrase "it chanced on the same day" to bring up the point that God was going to bring them together through their prayer and work His healing through them.
In the scriptures, we will read page after page, how God works wonders and His plan is seen in the stories of the Bible. But how God works His wonders in our present lives is often beyond our comprehension.
Through faith, we will see God in all things and give thanks to God for all things, for He is God, not of the dead, but of the living.
Living God, you are the God of the covenant of life and loyal love. Keep us in your love and keep the promise of life which you have given us through your Son, Jesus Christ. Let his life gush forth in us, fully and richly, until it blooms forth into life without end. We ask this in the name of Christ, our Lord. Amen