“She said to me, “It was given to me as a gift in addition to my wages.” But I did not believe her, and told her to return it to the owners. I became flushed with anger against her over this. Then she replied to me, “Where are your acts of charity? Where are your righteous deeds? These things are known about you!” (Tobit 2:14)
Our first reading today takes us to the home of Tobit. His wife Anna had gone out to sell a piece of cloth she wove herself and was paid for it in full. Perhaps, seeing her impoverished condition, they decided to give her a gift; a goat.
Tobit did not believe her story. For him, the only way his wife would return home with a goat was if she had stolen it. Bear in mind that those days, goats were quite expensive to the extent that when a man’s riches were calculated, it was according to number of livestock he has.
Tobit mistrusted his own wife despite the number of years they have been together. Who knows if something had happened before that led to his mistrust? Without trust, marital life is tough. Couples should be able to trust each other. This means that you must completely forgive your spouse each time they wrong you lest an issue of the past becomes the reason for today’s quarrel.
Tobit, who was blind at the time, admitted the fact that he lost his temper. He probably said things that also made Anna angry. And she blurted out: “Aren’t you Mr. Righteous? How has it helped you now? What do you have to show for your sacrifices for others?” Anna’s words pierced Tobit to the heart. He literally burst into tears and began to pray. (Cf. Tobit 3:1ff)
It demands special grace and certain skills to be happily married. One of these skills is emotional intelligence; the ability to know when you are angry and not allow your anger to control your speech or actions. Another important skill is respect. If Tobit had shown some respect for Anna, he would have believed her story. And if Anna had shown respect for Tobit, she wouldn’t have spoken that way to him.
To respect a person is to give him or her their due regardless of how you feel. Every human being deserves respect. The fact that you know everything about your spouse (including their limitations and weak points) does not mean you should disrespect them.
Never look down on your spouse. Be mindful of the words you use on them. a person could be insulted by a stranger and laugh it off but when that insult comes from one’s spouse, the pain is unbearable. Even if you don’t believe in what your spouse is doing, avoid making a mockery of their life’s work. In an argument or discussion, be respectful of the opinions of your spouse even if you don’t agree. At least, listen to them first. Everyone longs to be heard; it gives a feeling of importance and we all need it.
In our Gospel passage, Jesus is asked a very tricky question. And in response, Jesus said: “Give to Caesar the things that are the Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Mark 12:17). Respect people; respect God.
Today, we remember St. Justin, the great Christian martyr who so brilliantly defended (explained) the Christian Faith with the use of philosophy. Through his writings (also known as “apologies”), many came to believe in God and practice the Christian faith. Like St. Paul, the apostle, Justin was the right man for his time.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me get better at respecting others that I may also give you the loyalty and respect that is yours. Amen.
Bible Study: Tobit 2:9-14 and Mark 12:13-17).