Another short book of the Bible, this time from the Old Testament, Tobit. It has been on my radar since last year, when I read Mother Alexandra’s Holy Angels, but I had kind of forgotten how much I wanted to read it until I saw a Facebook post from someone raving about it. With my memory restored, I decided my next few reading moments were going to be spent there.
Tobit reads like a little intimate novel and yet is filled with treasures of the Faith. Mother Alexandra cited the book because it is one of the longest and most detailed accounts of angels helping us on earth and the archangels. While many angelic encounters are referenced in the scriptures, the story of Tobit is more than just an angel relaying a message from God. This account shows us how our guardian angels, the archangels and others of heavenly host help us everyday and with every task. Tobias’ travel companion, unbeknownst to him, was the archangel Raphael. Raphael helped Tobias complete the tasks of his travels efficiently for Tobit and Tobias were pious and God fearing men, who allowed God’s providence to work in their life.
This is important because angels seem to be so overlooked today. It feels like we try to skirt the issue. Angels are used as mascots and yet to talk about receiving real help from the true angels of God is considered crazy. While visible interaction with angels is rare and one has to be cautious upon hearing an account, it is disappointing that so many today brushoff any claim that we do receive help from the heavenly host. Angels are with us and work beside us trying to guide our steps thanklessly, as we forget to thank them and ask them to help us further and intercede for us with Christ.
Beyond the angels, though, Tobit is a great book of prayer and thanksgiving. Each member of the family glorifies God through prayer and praise that is eloquently stated and takes no glory for themselves. It inspires me to strive to humble myself, for everything I have has been granted to me by God. Even when Tobit loses his sight, he is like Job and says Glory to God for all things. If I suddenly went blind today, first I would cry and ask why, then I would go to a doctor, where a number of tests would be run and then maybe I would turn to God. This is my conditioned response… God comes after worldly cares and fixes, but if we want to be like the prophets or the apostles or to really grow in Christ’s likeness, that order needs to be changed and I need to turn to God first.
Perhaps the most enduring quality of Tobit is the fact that it is a love story. Love between father and son, romance between bride and groom and love of the Holy Trinity. The relationship between Tobit and Tobias is a dream. Tobit is a loving and generous father and Tobias is an obedient son. Tobias cares for his father when he is blinded, but is still obedient to him with love and respect acknowledging Tobit’s years of wisdom. Isn’t that what every parent wants? It is a struggle, though to honor our parents this way when our culture demands that we become independent and self-sufficient and replace our elders. When will we realize what a blessing they are and our gifts from them are incomplete? I have a lot to learn here with both my own parents and my in-laws, however if I put God’s will before all, I believe good order will be restored.
Have you notice divine influence of you life and loves lately? Did you offer thanks for it, whether you felt its immediate effects were positive or negative?