|Tobias and the Angel by Fillipi|
Like some of my fellow bloggers, I love the Book of Tobit and look forward to the time when the daily Mass readings include it. The Book of Tobit is what drew me to the Archangel Raphael. I no longer get the Magnificat because I wanted to train myself to listen to the readings and not read them along with the priest or lector. Today, I heard something in these readings that I have overlooked before.
Tobit had his faults, just like the rest of us. When he loses his ability to earn a livelihood as a result of his blindness, his wife Anna must work to support them, doing, as Tobit says, "women's work", or weaving. Because her work is so fine, one of her clients gives her a kid goat in addition to her wages. When she brings it home, Tobit assumes the worst. He assumes she has taken stolen goods and insists that she return the goat. Insulted, she reproaches Tobit, asking him: "Where are your alms and your righteous deeds?"
How many times has someone done something so wonderful, that I have tried to detract from their deed by assuming the worst, even if only in my mind? Someone gets an A on an exam with which I struggled, and I conclude they must have cheated. A friend's son or daughter gets into an exclusive college, and I assume it's because it's a legacy admission. A patient writes a letter of commendation for a co-worker, and I assume it's because the employee knows the patient personally and put them up to writing it. I don't think Tobit's reaction rises to the level of some of the truly rotten things I've thought about others. Anna's words are a reminder that it's a good thing to practice acts of mercy, like burying the dead, but we still have to go the whole nine yards. What good are our actions when we think the worst of people and do not give them the benefit of the doubt?
When misfortune strikes, Anna does not question why but takes up her weaving and goes about supporting her family. She doesn't try to supplant Tobit by going out and doing his work. He clearly tells us that she supports them by doing "women's work", in which she obviously takes a considerable amount of pride. Today's reading is a good reminder of how all of us, myself especially, can fall prey to human weakness and suspicion by thinking the worst of others. With Lent just hours away, I am going to take Ros's lead and talk more about my own shortcomings and a lot of less about what other people to do disappoint me.