Scripture: 1st Reading: Tobit12,1,5-15,20; Resp. Psalm: Tobit13,1-4,6,8; Gosp. Accl: Mt5,3; Gospel: Mk12,38-44
Selfishness, self centredness, greed, injustice lead us nowhere. We seem to be happy, to be satisfied but deep within the recesses of our hearts, we know that we are not free. These vices lead to bondage, sadness and total lack of freedom. We are in bondage because nothing earthly can fully satisfy the desires of the heart. Goodness of heart in the end is liberative.
Tobit was a good man. He was just, righteous, charitable, God fearing. Tobit put his God first in everything even when it was not "fashionable" to do so in their foreign land of exile in Nineveh. Tobit clung to his God and practised the tenets of his faith. The God he loved with all his heart, soul, mind and might vindicated him.
On the return of Tobias his son and his companion (whose origin they knew nothing of) and after having been miraculously returned to good health, Tobit told his son to share all that he brought with his companion. It was at this point that the companion revealed his identity as Archangel Raphael. Raphael told Tobit and his family to praise God always, give Him thanks, reveal His works, do good, pray, fast, give alms, practise righteousness.
This angel revealed that there is power in prayer. He revealed that there is power also in charity and doing good to others. The angel revealed that God noticed when Tobit was going about doing good, burying the dead, giving food to the hungry. God also saw and took notice of the anguished cries of Tobit and Sarah, his future daughter in law. These two facts moved God to send Raphael, His Archangel, to heal both of them of their afflictions.
Tobit practised justice. Tobit demonstrated his total love for His God. Tobit was generous with what he had. Tobit was generous with his life. This was the central point of our Lord's teaching today in the gospel. Our Lord condemned in clear terms the inconsistent lives of the scribes. He condemned their practise of externalizing religion and faith. He frowned at the incoherence of their lives and the disparity between what they said and what they did.
In contrast to the scribes who practised religion for show, our Lord brought up the example of the poor, "faceless", unknown, "inconsequential" widow who brought into the treasury two copper coins, all that she had. While others were giving out of their abundance, this widow was giving all that she had, her whole living! The generosity of this widow is similar to that of Tobit: they were generous not just with what they had (a level which many of us have not reached at all), more importantly, they were generous with their entire lives. They received commendations from God.
What about us? Many times we live our lives as if there will be no end one day. We close our eyes, hearts and minds to the needs of the poor. We refuse to be generous and demonstrate genuine closeness to the poor. We turn the other eye and pretend we do not see. The word of God today challenges us to have a rethink. The poor man you help today may be the one who will plead on your behalf, pray for you so that some calamities might be taken away from you. Do not forget that the Lord hears the cries of the poor and listens to them! Begin to be generous from today.
Let us pray: God our loving Father, everything we have and are have been given to us from the depths of your love and generosity. Open our hearts and hands to our poor brothers and sisters. Give us generous hearts to meet their needs. Bless us so that we can be truly be your "dispensers of goodness". Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always. Happy Weekend.