Immersed In Christ Mon 6/5/17
Tobit 1:3 to 2:8; Psalm112; Mark 12:1-12
Happy the one who fears the Lord.
The liturgy has us read the Book of Tobit on all the weekdays of Week Nine. Its goal is to teach wisdom through the fascinating story that it tells. A footnote calls it a “religious novel.” It is also a chronicle of ministries. It begins, “I, Tobit, have walked all the days of my life on paths of fidelity and righteousness. I performed many charitable deeds for my kindred and my people who had been taken captive with me.”
But it cost him. Tobit 1:3 to 2:8 shows Tobit as a nonconformist. He continued to perform the authentic
rituals of Israel, even when everyone else succumbed to the pressure of the culture around them: “I would often make the pilgrimage alone to Jerusalem for the festivals.... All my brothers and relatives ate the food of heathens, but I refrained...”
He didn’t just stand up against the laxity of his family and fellow Jews. He also broke the law by the ministry of burying executed Israelites, which was forbidden under pain of death. When he fled into hiding, all his property was confiscated. And when he returned under a different ruler, he did it again. His neighbors called him a fool: “Will this man never learn?” But the question the story confronts us with is, “Will we ever learn?”
We don’t think of ourselves as exiles deported to a foreign land hostile to our religion. We don’t see ourselves as a tiny minority immersed in a pagan culture. That is because we have done spiritually what the story tells us Tobit did physically: we have closed our eyes and gone to sleep, heedless of our environment. And what happened to Tobit (as we will see tomorrow) happened to us. While we slept we were blinded.
Thomas Jefferson is attributed with saying, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” If we take for granted we are free, we will one day discover we are slaves — if by that time we are not too blind to see it. The truth is, we are in “enemy territory.” Every Christian is. Always and everywhere. The United States is a foreign land for us, one that pressures and draws us to follow an unenlightened culture — a culture Pope John Paul II characterized as being in some respects a “culture of death.” The same is true of every country and culture on earth. This world, as centuries of human sins and errors have distorted it, is simply not a place where Christians can be at home. Peter calls us “aliens and exiles” here. Paul reminds us “our citizenship is in heaven.”
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light..... Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.
We need to scrutinize and question every trend, every goal, every priority our culture draws us into. What is good we accept; but we don’t accept anything as good without discernment.
Meditation: How am I different from a “good American”? What do I question? How do I show it in ministering to others?
 1Peter 2:9-12; Philippians 3:20.