Monday, June 22, 2015

A Summer Read Along: Tobit 4; Our Hero Enters


"Revere the Lord all your days, my son, and refuse to sin or to transgress his commandments. Live uprightly all the days of your life, and do not walk in the ways of wrongdoing; for those who act in accordance with truth will prosper in all their activities." (Tobit 4:5-6a)

We meet Tobias today...the son of Tobit and Anna...and the hero of our tale. Right off the bat, we see Tobit acting to form. Even as he professes (and practices) fidelity to God and proves himself a seeker of righteousness, he also continues to reveal himself as someone who has resolved that suffering and an tragic, early death are the consummate fruits of his steadfastness. He worries that his transgressions, or those of his forbears, continue to stain his person in the light of God's justice. Even though he is good, and has done MORE than right by others, he suffers. The poor man. If only he can in some way secure the well being of his wife Anna, before he dies (a boon and blessing he has asked of God).

The answer, he decides, is a two-fold enterprise. The first is to send his son Tobias to collect his fortune. Left behind at Rages in Media with Gabael are ten talents of silver. That is an immense, even a princely, sum. If Tobias can secure that wealth to which Tobias is entitled, then good things can happen: Tobit (having requested death) can die and be buried in an appropriately fashion--his oen morbid focus satisifed; Anna can have a secure life (and when she dies, she can then be buried in the same grave as Tobit); Tobias, our dear Tobit's legacy, will be able (by God's good will) to find a kinswoman to marry...and the remainder of Tobit's money can be a boon to them. 

Tobit then offers the advice of a loving father, and a righteous man, on how Tobias is to conduct himself on his journey and really for the balance of his lifetime. He gives his son a form of "modified Commandments" that equate to a summary of Torah. The emphasis is placed on how people should interact with each other in a manner that fosters justice while accruing righteousness to Tobias as the author of those good works. The justice Tobit counsels is wide ranging....even cosmopolitan in aspect. 

How should a good and faithful man live? Reference Tobit 4: 5-19. It's all laid out. Tobias is told how to give within the community of the faithful, and how to favor the righteous. Tobias is directed to exercise generosity while also taking interest in the moral rectitude of those to whom he renders assistance. He is to marry within his faith, indeed, within his tribe and lineage. He is to work hard, share with a generous heart and bless the Lord at all times.

And now, with that, the quest is revealed (at least as it is expressed via Tobit's agenda: go and get the ten talents of silver left in trust with Gabael. Go with God, dear Tobias....so that Tobit can die in peace and be buried with appropriate honors. That's all....such a simple request for a suffering (righteous) man.

But God has plans...and our friend Raphael the archangel is about to get involved.

Before that, though....Anna is about to find out about Tobit's plans for her only, beloved son.

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