This post is part of a reflective Lenten series, originally published as Facebook posts on my personal account
Lenten practice, day #4.
Reference: Tobit 4:1-21
Honestly, I found this reading to be a bit dry. Right after praying for death, Tobit remembers money he had left in safe keeping in the town of Media (where Sarah lives) and he decides to inform Tobiah of its location, since it’s his inheritance money. The entire chapter is just Tobit giving Tobiah life advice and telling him where to retrieve the cash.
One thing that did stand how to me, however, is the way Tobit talks about his wife, Anna. He instructs Tobiah to honor her, to attend to her every need, to love her always, and when she dies to bury her alongside her husband. I was taken by Tobit’s commitment to his wife. Even after death, he instructs his son in her keeping–much higher quality than the standard cultural practices for the care of widows. Although he no longer wishes to live, he would still give or do anything for his beloved.
It’s also interesting that, despite feeling worthless, screwed over, and abandoned by God, every single instruction Tobit gives Tobiah ultimately points back to honoring God and his commands. I don’t completely understand it. I would expect Tobit to either trust God throughout his trials, or to feel totally abandoned and in turn abandon God. Instead, I suppose, Tobit’s story is much more realistic. It’s telling of how we often react in the face of tragedy–humans have quite the bipolar relationship with God, and Tobit is a wonderful illustration of that.
Finally, I find it humorous that Tobit rants on and on for an entire chapter about the proper conduct Tobiah should follow in his life and doesn’t mention the money until the very end–and then only briefly. When it is mentioned, it’s described as a “great sum of money,” but Tobit immediately reassures Tobiah, “Do not be discouraged, my child, because of our poverty.” Not only did it take the man forever to get to his point (can you imagine the suspense for poor Tobiah?), when he gets there, he breezes right over it and makes a confusing comment about how poor they are. Talk about mixed messages.
Thoughts? Any ideas why Tobit would be so short about the money? Help me out here, kids. I’m confused.