Tobit 11:5-17; Psalm 146:1b-2, 6c-7, 8-9a, 9bc-10; Mark 12:35-37
Tobit is an unusual book, not widely read. It is also one of the so-called apocryphal books that are not universally recognized by all Christians. The book is perhaps best known for the hymn of praise that Tobit sings in chapter 13, but our reading is from chapter 11, which chronicles the restoration of Tobit’s eyesight from the damage caused by cataracts.
This little story gives voice to the dramatic possibilities for healing that the Jesus offers. Early in the story of Tobit, we learn of significant despair—Tobit himself feels crushed by the misfortune that he must endure. In chapter 3, he actually prays for death. People who have faced great suffering understand what it means to hope for death. At times the very thought of continued living in the face of a future full of suffering can be too much to bear. Tobit’s reversal of fortune and his healing reminds us to have confidence in God’s providential care; in the end, God will not abandon us to unendurable suffering. We are, I think, much like Tobit, and we need the encouragement that such a story offers.
Clearly today’s selection of Psalm 146 underscores the centrality of this healing theme. “The LORD gives sight to the blind…The LORD raises up those who are bowed down.” The selection also encourages us to remember Tobit’s reversal and to offer appropriate praise to the God who cares for us and loves us in the same way.
At first glance, the reading from Mark seems to have little in common with the text from Tobit and the reinforcing Psalm, but there is a link. David is here quoting Psalm 110, which, in ancient Christian tradition was understood to be a reference to the divine nature of the Jesus. Jesus, as Son of God is LORD and seated at the right hand of the Father. Jesus who is LORD and God among us is the very same one who provided for Tobit in his need and who the Psalmist would have us praise in our own.
By John O'Keefe