Everyone loves a happy ending; and although there are several more chapters in the Book of Tobit that we don’t read this year, today’s reading does indeed give us a very happy ending. God has healed Tobit and rescued Sarah from the shame and dishonor that was hers by virtue of the deaths of her seven husbands.
As we listen to the episode in today’s reading, it would be a good idea to remember certain facts that we heard earlier. First of all, Tobit is living in exile from Israel in the city of Nineveh. By returning to his father and mother, Tobiah is doing more than simply returning home. He is “honoring” his parents as the commandment demands, actually returning to a place of exile rather than setting up household in Ecbatana with the father of his bride.
Let us also remember that Tobiah does not know the identity of his companion. He is acting on faith. He has placed his fate and that of his family in the hands of a stranger because that stranger displays conduct in keeping with a man is faithful to the Sinai covenant. He joins the already legion in his Hebrew history who act on things not seen but believed. Considering the mockery that his neighbors have visited upon his father and, by extension, upon himself, he is displaying his own adherence in that same covenant. He is a true child of Israel, a child of God.
Tobiah is a man who places the needs of his mother and father before his own needs. He is, therefore, a character to points to the commandments of the Christian Scriptures as well as the commandments of the Hebrew Scriptures.
While the story we have heard this week may be somewhat fantastic, almost fairy tale like, it is, in the words of our Orthodox Christians brothers and sisters, a story that is useful for instruction in the way of life demanded of us by virtue of our own discipleship. As we rejoice with Tobiah and his family, we also keep in mind all that God has done for us as well, especially in the gift that we are about to receive. Just as Tobiah walked with an angel sent by God, we claim to walk with Jesus who has sent us his Spirit and who has promised to remain with us through the gift of the Eucharist.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator