Fr. Placid offers a lesson drawn from the biblical Book of Tobit:

In the Book of Tobit, we are introduced to two people in need of healing: Tobit and Sarah. In a careful reading, we find that more ails them that at first meets the eye. We read:

So the archangel Raphael was sent by God to heal them both: to remove the white scales from Tobit’s eyes, so that he might again see with his own eyes God’s light; and to give Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, as a wife to Tobiah, the son of Tobit, and to rid her of the wicked demon Asmodeus. For it fell to Tobiah’s lot to claim her before any others who might wish to marry her (Tb 3:17).

But if we back up to the previous chapters, we find clues to inner ailments. Tobit’s exact following of the Torah leads to his blindness. He was blind to his self-righteousness and to others’ points of view. Sarah’s malady was the demon Asmodeus’ obsession with her, killing off all her suitors. But the name ‘Asmodeus’ means Demon of Wrath, so perhaps Sarah was blind to her anger and frustration at her situation. So blind was she that she could not be aware of her own rage and took it out on her maids.

Following their prayers wishing for death, their prayers were answered by God. But not as they requested. Perhaps they needed to die to their self-pity and their self-absorption. Tobit’s healing began with the desire to restore his relationship with Raguel. Sarah’s own came to fruition when she prayed with Tobiah before they went to bed the night of their wedding. Sarah needed to trust another’s word that all would be all right. The prayer allowed Raphael to seize Asmodeus and ensured that he never bothered Sarah again. The same fish gall cure that drove off Asmodeus also healed Tobit of his blindness.

The lesson not immediately grasped in this biblical novella is that both Tobit and Sarah softened their hard edges for the happy outcome of the book.  Raphael told Tobit and Tobiah to bless God for all that God had done for them. The lessons learned may help us soften our edges, be willing to step out of our comfort zones, and heal divisions where necessary.

God bless you,

Your brothers of New Clairvaux

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