Day 193: The Book of Tobit

Isaiah 3:1-15 The Lord pronounced judgement on those who foolishly neglected recourse to his assistance. No one can escape divine judgment; the Lord in his infinite wisdom will reward the just and punish the sinful. (CCC 1465)

Ch 3:16-26 Isaiah criticized the women of Jerusalem who found ultimate fulfillment in adorning themselves vainly. He went on to say that their vanity would be punished through painful humiliation. Worse still, their men would die in battle, leaving relatively few alive for remarriage. This theme continues in Chapter 4, which describes women desperate to find men and bear children since maidenhood and barrenhood were seen as dishonors. Obsession with physical appearance is a form of idolatry since it gives undue reverence to the body as an end in itself. (CCC 2289)

Ch 4:1-6 After much war and destruction, Isaiah speaks about the restoration of a remnant of Israel. (CCC 710-711, 1081)

Tobit 3:1-6 Tobit viewed his suffering as punishment for his own sins and for the sins of his ancestors, a common Jewish perspective that began to be challenged in the Book of Kings and Chronicles but persisted even in the time of Christ. He prayed for death not as a matter of despair but as an act of obedience, love, and total trust in God. In a similar manner, Christians look forward to death because of the desire to be with the Lord. (CCC 1011)

Ch 3:7-10 The extraordinary misfortune that befell Sarah’s husbands left her at the point of despair. Unlike Tobit, she desired death and even contemplated suicide as an end to her misery. (CCC 2281)

BY REASON OF NATURAL LAW WRITTEN ON OUR HEARTS, we can know that human life is sacred and must be preserved and protected. Taking one’s own life, or suicide, is a grave sin against the Fifth Commandment since only God has the authority to call us out of the life he gave us. In many instances, however, suicide is preceded by despair over a painful situation. Though suicide is a gravely evil act objectively, there are many psychological factors that can significantly mitigate the culpability, or guilt, of the sin of a person who commits such an act. (CCC 2280-2283)

Ch 3:11-16 As in the Books of Ezra and Jeremiah, the Chosen People found recourse to prayer in an ever deepening way. Over the years, their prayer became richer and more personal; this is reflected not only in the growing eloquence since the days of Abraham but also in the more personal nature of the prayers themselves. As the people of Israel continued to grow in their knowledge of God, they began to establish a relationship of friendship marked by a desire to fulfill God’s will. Included in their worship of God were prayers of praise and thanksgiving. (CCC 2585)

Ch 3:17 Raphael, whose name fittingly means “God cures,” is one of the archangels; he was sent to heal both Tobit and Sarah, whose prayers were virtually simultaneous. This coincidence was clearly seen as the work of God, who would use these misfortunes to effect a great good in bringing Tobit and Sarah together. 

Ch 4:1-21 Tobit sent Tobias to collect his deposit with some parting words of wisdom, exhorting him to keep the Law and Commandments, to be generous and merciful toward the needy, to practice temperance, and to marry a woman from his own tribe. 

Ch 4:3-4 The Fourth Commandment calls us to honor our fathers and mothers. Parents cooperate with God both in bringing their children into existence and in rearing them; for this reason, children are called to give special honor and respect to their parents and those in authority. Tobit reminded Tobias of his obligations to his mother after he himself died; he also noted the obligation to bury each of them with proper respect. (CCC 2214)

Ch 4:5-11 Tobit, so diligent in the works of mercy, encouraged his son always to do the same. Giving alms is a way of enabling the poor to live a life worthy of their dignity as human beings made in the image of God. (CCC 2247)

Ch 4:12: Blessed in their children: The procreation and rearing of children is one of the primary purposes of marriage. (CCC 2378)

Ch 4:14 The prompt payment of fair wages to an employee is a matter of social justice. (CCC 1940)

Ch 4:15 What you hate, do not do to any one: This word of counsel is a negative restatement of the “golden rule”: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you (cf. Mt 7:12; Lk 6:31). (CCC 1789)

FEEDING THE HUNGRY, GIVING DRINK TO THE THIRSTY, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead are the CORPORAL WORKS OF MERCY. The SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY are counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant, admonishing sinners, comforting the afflicted, forgiving offenses, bearing wrongs patiently, and praying for the living and the dead. Since almsgiving covers a number of works of mercy, it is in many cases an indication of our love for God and neighbor.

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we thank you and give you praise. We know that you invite us, you command us, you tell us to seek wisdom and to avoid foolishness. And so not only in the Book of Proverbs do we have this sense of like, ok Lord, you remind us that yes so many voices are calling to us, so many voices are saying ‘Hey! Over here over here over here. Come over here. Give us your attention. Give us your heart. Give us your mind. Give us your life.’ Because everything that takes our attention is taking our life. Everything that we give a minute of our attention to, we have given a minute of our lives to, a minute of our heart to. And so, God, help us to be wise. Help us to not turn to every foolish voice, every foolish opportunity, but help us only listen to those wise voices in our lives. Help us only turn to the people that we know are wise, especially your Word, Lord God. We thank you for your Word because it is your Word that gives life. It is your Spirit that gives life. And so we give these minutes, we give this day, we give our heart to your Word, to your Life, to your Spirit, and to your Wisdom. Help us to always walk in your Spirit and always walk in your Wisdom. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”