June 8th, 2007
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Tobit is an unusual book, not widely read. It is also
one of the so-called apocryphal books that are not universally recognized
by all Christians. The book is perhaps best known for the hymn of
praise that Tobit sings in chapter 13, but our reading is from chapter
11, which chronicles the restoration of Tobit’s eyesight from
the damage caused by cataracts.
This little story gives voice to the dramatic possibilities for
healing that the Jesus offers. Early in the story of Tobit, we learn
of significant despair—Tobit himself feels crushed by the
misfortune that he must endure. In chapter 3, he actually prays
for death. People who have faced great suffering understand what
it means to hope for death. At times the very thought of continued
living in the face of a future full of suffering can be too much
to bear. Tobit’s reversal of fortune and his healing reminds
us to have confidence in God’s providential care; in the end,
God will not abandon us to unendurable suffering. We are, I think,
much like Tobit, and we need the encouragement that such a story
Clearly today’s selection of Psalm 146 underscores the centrality
of this healing theme. “The LORD gives sight to the blind…The
LORD raises up those who are bowed down.” The selection also
encourages us to remember Tobit’s reversal and to offer appropriate
praise to the God who cares for us and loves us in the same way.
At first glance, the reading from Mark seems to have little in common
with the text from Tobit and the reinforcing Psalm, but there is
a link. David is here quoting Psalm 110, which, in ancient Christian
tradition was understood to be a reference to the divine nature
of the Jesus. Jesus, as Son of God is LORD and seated at the right
hand of the Father. Jesus who is LORD and God among us is the very
same one who provided for Tobit in his need and who the Psalmist
would have us praise in our own.
to the writer of this reflection.
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