“Then with much grief and anguish of heart I wept, and with groaning began to pray.” (Tobit 3:1)
Sad moments occur in our lives to remind us of the fact that we are not yet home, they put us on guard and give us more reasons to draw close to God. Sad times come to everybody. While leading some persons to depression and even suicide, sad times often act as stepping stones to greatness for others. What differentiates winners from losers is not the occurrence of tough times but how they react in tough times.
Today’s First Reading continues the story of Tobit. He became blind one day after helping to bury the dead. He did not believe that someone dashed his wife a goat and he wanted her to return it. In anger, his wife Anna, spoke badly to him. She made a mockery of his many charities and good deeds. The harshness of her words reminds us of Proverbs 21:9 which says: “It is better to live on top of the roof than to share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” All that Tobit could do was to pray.
In the case of Sarah, she was accused and insulted by her father’s maids of being responsible for the deaths of her husbands after she had been given in marriage seven times. She took a rope and locked herself in the upper room of the house intending to hang herself. Just at that moment, she decided to pray instead.
Just as Tobit was praying, Sarah too prayed: “And now, Lord, I turn my face to you, and raise my eyes toward you. Command that I be released from the earth and not listen to such reproaches anymore.” (Tobit 3:12-13). In moments of pain and sorrow, God is the only solution.
See how our first reading today ends: “At that very moment, the prayers of both of them were heard in the glorious presence of God. So Raphael was sent to heal both of them: Tobit, by removing the white films from his eyes, so that he might see God’s light with his eyes; and Sarah, daughter of Raguel, by giving her in marriage to Tobias son of Tobit, and by setting her free from the wicked demon Asmodeus.” (Tobit 3:16-17)
What does this teach us? 1. Prayers are never in vain. 2. God works through Persons, sometimes, Angels who take human form. 3. Demons exist, they cause problems for many people, but God is stronger than them. The fact that we don’t see demons does not mean that they don’t exist. Life is more than what meets the eye. There are physical problems but there are also spiritual problems and these problems can only be solved on our knees through constant prayer and fasting.
In our Gospel passage, the Sadducees, seeing how Jesus brilliantly dismissed the Herodians and Pharisees, came to Jesus with their own tricky question. They wanted to prove to Jesus that there is no resurrection of the dead – that whatever they don’t see does not exist. How mistaken they were. It is like one saying that just because you cannot see demons, they don’t exist.
Jesus enlightened us in this encounter saying: “He is God not of the dead, but of the living.” (Mark 12:27) This is a very heavy statement. It means that before God, every human being who has ever lived in this world is still alive. When we die, we only cease to live in this physical realm but we are alive in another realm. This other realm is not visible to our eyes but it exists. Life is more than what meets the eye.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, when my eyes become red with tears, please come to my rescue, take away any thoughts of suicide from me. Give me strength to believe that prayers can still move mountains. Amen.
Bible Study: Tobit 3:1-11,16-17, Psalm 25 and Mark 12:18-27).