Praise of God is our principal duty when we celebrate the Eucharist. We owe God praise as a matter of justice: God created everything, gave each of us our unique, unrepeatable soul, and recklessly shares divine life with us. In other words, we are loved in such a manner that we could never deserve or pay back. It is not a pious platitude to say that we are completely dependent on God; it is simply the truth. That deserves the fullest, most heartfelt praise from every person on earth.
The first reading for today presents us with the best day of Tobit’s life. His son has returned. His blindness is cured, and his son has brought home a wife. Tobit not only offers praise to God, but immediately proclaims to the whole town what God did for him. However, he says something very interesting in his hymn of joy. “It was God who scourged me, and it is he who has had mercy on me.” This is a key to being able to sustain our faith: suffering is among the many gifts that God gives us, and it is worthy of praise. We are to honor God even when the cross of our Lord feels too heavy to bear; we are to worship him when our prayers feel leaden and dry.
Praising God is easy in the good times. Prayer flows better; the fingerprints of the Lord in the happenings of life are more evident. Worship of our God – like anything rooted in love – cannot depend on good times and claim to be authentic.
Tobit’s canticle points us in the right direction on how to adore our God regardless of the good or bad times. Tobit lauds who God is in addition to what God has done. Our God is all good, all powerful, all knowing, and perfectly loving. When we begin our prayers with that kind of praise, we’re echoing what the angels and saints are saying in heaven. That is the point of prayer in our lives as well – bringing about heaven on earth.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator