Limitations of time do not allow us to hear all the details of the absorbing story of Tobit. Today we see something of the parallel stories of two people, Tobit and Sarah, very far from each other, who are depicted as desperate to experience death - in one instance, even suicide. Both individuals have reached a point in their lives and are suffering scorn and humiliation because of their situations. Bear in mind that nothing in the world of the Middle East is worse than being humiliated before their family and neighbors. They each ask God to deliver them from their humiliation through death. It must be kept in mind as we read these stories that neither Tobit nor Sarah knew anything about life after death. Even so, they would rather die than go on living.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus clarifies the resurrection for some of his opponents. Yesterday we heard of the plots of the Pharisees and the Herodians. Today it is the Saducees who wish to trap Jesus.
Desperation such as Tobit and Sarah experience is just as present in our own day and age as it was in the lives of these two unfortunate people. We see refugees pouring across the borders of neighboring countries, desperate to get away from the grinding poverty and the violence of their native lands. No one leaves their home unless driven to do so by unbearable conditions. These despairing and desperate people need our understanding and patience which we, in justice, owe them. Both the Hebrew and the Christian Scriptures remind all of us that God hears the cry of the poor. As God is so fond of reminding the children of Israel, they were once the refugees, fleeing to Egypt because of the famine which gripped their land. Our ancestors came to this country fleeing various situations that drove them away from their homes abroad.
While we give thanks to God for our bounty, let us never shirk our responsibility to aid those in their need.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator