“Raphael said to Tobias, before he had approached his father, ‘I know that his eyes will be opened. Smear the gall of the fish on his eyes; the medicine will make the white films shrink and peel off from his eyes, and your father will regain his sight and see the light.’” (Tobit 11:7-8)
In today’s First Reading, the Angel Raphael told Tobias to extract the gall of a fish and rub it on Tobit’s eyes for his healing. Ordinarily, the gall of a fish has nothing to do with curing a man’s blindness, but when Tobias applied it on Tobit’s eyes, it acted as a sacramental. It wasn’t the gall of a dead fish that opened Tobit’s eyes, rather it was the Power of God at work.
The story of Tobit teaches us that God intervenes in our lives through people. God could even send Angels our way to help us out of our difficulties. All the while, Tobias had no idea that Raphael was an Angel. The story of Tobit also teaches us that God works great wonders in our lives through the things we see and touch around us.
For instance, in healing the deaf and dumb man, Jesus put his fingers in his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue and said Ephphaha. (Mark 7:32-34). Meanwhile, in the healing of the blind man at the pool of Siloam, Jesus spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes. (John 9:6-7). When the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter demanding money, Jesus told Peter to go and catch a fish and he would find a coin in his mouth. (Matthew 17:24-27).
Just as it was possible for Tobit to be healed without the application of a fish gall, it was also possible for Jesus to heal and perform miracles without the use of spittle, mud, or fish. God’s power is not limited in any way to these items.
Nevertheless, God uses sacramental items such as water, oil, salt, rosary, scapular, picture, fabric etc. to bring healing, protection, and blessing to us. It is not as if these items are powerful in themselves, rather, God rewards our faith when we use them.
Notice that when Tobit’s eyes were opened, the first thing he did was to give praise to God. Tobit did not sing praises to the gall of the fish because he knew it only acted as a sacramental.
It is quite worrisome today that many Christians abuse sacramental items. Some go as far as selling blessed items (doing business like the chief priests who turned the Temple into a market place – a den of robbers). Some even carry them about as charms. Be careful: there is a thin line between using sacramental objects and idolatry. Do not transfer the worship due to God to sacramental items.
Above all the message of the book of Tobit is that God answers prayers. God cares for His children. God is not pleased with our tears, deprivation, injustice, and suffering. God is ready to go to any extent to save us. Whatever it is you are experiencing now, don’t give up on God. Continue to pray and one day, your miracle will happen.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, heal me of all my sicknesses. Amen.
Bible Study: Tobit 11:5-15, Psalm 146 and Mark 12:35-37).