Saturday, July 30, 2011

quick thoughts on Tobit

Recently in Adoration I've been flipping my Bible open to the book of Tobit. I guess it's been a while since I've read this book, because I was struck by what a great story it is, and how captivating. There's a lot of trial and tribulation for the main characters in the beginning of the book, and it sounds terribly similar to Job. But then this stranger, this angel, appears out of nowhere to intervene. Raphael explains at the end ("gloriously revealing the works of God") that he did not come as a favor of his own accord but because it was the will of God.

I think it's important to remember that when our novenas to various saints or other intercessory prayers are answered, it is not because God is bending His will to "do us a favor." He wants good things be heaped upon us, good measure, and flowing over. He loves us with a passionate, all-embracing, providential love and everything that happens in our lives is a manifestation of that love and is willed or permitted for our sanctification. It's a great mystery, and I would say a beautiful divine gift, that He allows our prayers to help in bringing that good that He wills for us all to fruition.

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the phrase "God's will", because it can be touted so glibly as the one thing you need to figure out, after which all your problems will be solved. In the story of Tobit, God's will seemed to include both the trials that resulted from Tobit's good works, and the ending of those trials with the aid of the angel Raphael. Tobit couldn't act to bring about, or even figure out, this happy ending part of God's will. All he could do was try to be faithful, accept his suffering, send his son on a journey, and wait for the rest to unfold.

The other thing that struck me in the twelfth chapter of Tobit was the emphasis on praising God and declaring His works. It struck my attention because my meditation yesterday was about listening (stemming from the Gospel for St. Martha's feast day on Martha and Mary), and today's was all about speaking. It was a good reminder for me of the need for balance between listening and speaking in prayer. "Praise God, and give thanks to him in the presence of all the living for what he has done for you. It is good to praise God and to exalt his name, worthily declaring the works of God. Do not be slow to give him thanks" (Tob. 12:6).

That is my prayer for tonight, that I am never slow to praise Him and give Him thanks, for answered prayers and for unanswered ones, for the beauty of creation, for my daily bread, for all the wonderful people He has placed in my life, and for His own unfailing love.

Here's a great quote from Blessed John Paul II to end these thoughts: "In any case, in the path of love which life entails, always remember that above every love there is one Love. One Love. Love without constraint or hesitation. It is the love with which Christ loves each one of you."

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