Scripture: Lectionary 353: Monday, March 7th. Tobit 1:1.2.2:1-9. Psalm
112:1-2,3-4,5-6. Mark 12:1-12

Today's Readings

Our first reading Tobit is an edifying story of a pious Israelite named
Tobit who is from the town of Ecbatana and is of the tribe of Naphtali
symbolized by a hind let loose (Genesis 30:8; 35:25. 49:21. Numbers
The first verse sets the stage for a fascinating narrative showing the
struggles, tensions, and humor within family life during the third and
fourth centuries before Christ. The reading is swift and easy which makes
it an enjoyable task of reading this deuterocanonical work. It is meant to
foster our piety, our religious sensitivity, and our moral behavior. It is
a fictive work that may be classified as a theodicy depicting why do bad
things happen to good people. Since it depicts biblical life within the
centuries after the Exile and before the time of Judas Maccabeus we have
valuable information about the social behaviors, the religious devotions,
the corporal works of mercy, and the humor of that period of time.

The text was originally in Aramaic, the language used by Jesus. It is
attested to in the Dead Sea Scrolls and its complete narrative is in Greek.
Most scholars would date it around 200 B.C. There is no mention of the
hope of resurrection in it. Rather it is describing the life of a devout
Jew Tobit who suffers for his observance of Judaism (J.L.McKenzie).

It belongs more to the genre of Wisdom literature and is similar in some
ways to the tragic story of Job. We can gain some insight into our acts of
piety from it and perhaps this is its value this day being the Monday
before Mardi Gras! Some of the good works are: almsgiving, observance of
cleanliness laws thus an act of charity for our neighbors! Burying the
dead, many prayers, honoring God, and thanksgiving are within the contents
of the book. Raphael, the angel of healing, is also featured in this
biblical narrative.

The humor is seen in the interaction of Tobit with his wife and the rather
unusual situations in Sarah's life with her suitors. Eventually all ends
well like a good old Western movie. It is a fitting way to get ready for
Lent and a good transition from ordinary time and Mardi Gras. Have a good
Lent. Amen.