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  • Father David M. Knight

Immersed in Christ: Tues 6/6/17

View Today’s Readings: Tuesday, Week Nine

Tobit 2:9-14; Psalm 112; Mark 12:13-17

The heart of the just person is secure, trusting in the Lord.

We would think someone as faithful to God as Tobit would enjoy the happy life Scripture keeps promising to those who live by God’s law. But he is hit with one disaster after another. He loses his property, loses his eyesight, loses the approval of his neighbors, and in this reading seems to lose even the respect of his wife. It afflicts him so much that in the next chapter he will pray for death! Is this the

fruit of wisdom? The fruit of keeping the law?

Tobit’s wife turned on him because he was so afraid of being dishonest he accused her of stealing a goat that was given as a gift. Any married man could have told him, "Tobit, that isn’t smart.” It was also a sin of rash judgment. But the point of the story is not his sin of suspicion, but his scrupulous solicitude for keeping the law of God, even when offered some relief from his poverty. He just let nothing compete with single-minded fidelity to God; so much so that sometimes his rigid morality discredited his ministry.

In this instance, he got a scathing reproach from his wife: “Where are your charitable deeds now... your virtuous acts? Your true character is finally showing itself!”

Admittedly, she had cause to be angry. But the story alerts us to a fact of life: when someone is more virtuous than others, the others will jump on any failing to discount all the good they have seen up to then. We see it in people’s reaction to scandals in the Church; whether horrible things like child abuse by a “minority of the minority” that is the clergy, or just the mediocrity of those who should be “models to the flock.”

Because the ministry of the clergy is so visible, the faults of the clergy are glaringly public. But any Christian who refuses to conform to the culture and lives by the true spirit of Christ will be subject to the same unforgiving scrutiny. Any fault will serve as an excuse to discount all the good ministry the Church does: help to the poor (in the United States, second only to the aid government gives); consistent participation and leadership in efforts for social justice; the heroism of countless missionaries and martyrs past and present, both laity and clergy; a richness of teaching that, though distorted at times, is full of challenge, balance and mystery, inviting “endless exploration” and summoning us to strive for the “breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,” so that we may be “filled with all the fullness of God.”[1]

Tobit got it from his wife. All of us get it from anyone who is threatened by the ideals we proclaim or — more threateningly — live. So is it true that if we live by God’s words we will be happy, and if we don’t we won’t?

Yes, it is true. But happiness does not exclude suffering and times of deep discouragement, even depression. Still:

God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but... will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.[2]

The heart of the just person is secure, trusting in the Lord.

Meditation: Can I accept goodness that isn’t perfect? In myself and others?

[1] Ephesians 3:18-19.

[2] 1Corinthians 10:13.

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