Advent Series - December 18
Yesterday we talked about how the Assyrians took over the kingdom of Israel. Israel, you remember was made up of the 10 tribes of Israel in the north, who broke away during the reign of King Solomon's son, Roboam.
Because the Temple of Jerusalem was in the kingdom of Judea in the south, however, the other tribes would not go there to worship as God commanded. Instead they set up false gods at the places of Bethel and Dan. Over the years, God sent prophets to bring His people back, but in the end, the Assyrians took over Israel.
Not all Israelites worshiped false gods, though.
At the same time that the Assyrians were taking over Israel (722 B.C.), there lived a man named Tobias. He was of the Hebrew tribe and city of Nephtali. Tobias did not worship the golden calves at Bethel and Dan. He went to worship God in the Temple of Jerusalem instead.
It says in the book of Tobias that, “When he was made captive…even in his captivity, forsook not the way of truth” (Tob 1:2)
When they captured Israel, the Assyrians made Tobias and his people move to the city of Ninive. Tobias comforted and encouraged the others. He gave food and clothes to those who had none. He took the bodies of those who were killed and buried them during the night, at risk of his own life.
One day, while Tobias was sleeping, some stuff from a bird’s nest fell into his eye and made him blind. The Bible says that God allowed this to happen so that Tobias might give an example of patience, just like Job.
Tobias remained faithful to God saying, “we are the children of saints, and look for that life which God will give to those that never change their faith from Him.” (Tob 2:18)
People in the world today are troubled by the notion of suffering. They wonder what it is all for, but God asks us to trust Him. It doesn’t really matter what happens to us in this life, as long as we are faithful to our Father. Our test is so short here on earth, and our reward for trusting Him is for all eternity.
The saints, in fact went one step further! They knew that we are here on earth in order to serve God through the salvation of souls by our prayers, sufferings and all that we do, united to the sufferings of Our Lord as part of the communion of saints.
As St. Paul said, “ Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ , in my flesh, for his body, which is the church” (Col 1:24)
Often we think of the day as being “our day”. We make plans and ask God to bless them; giving His stamp of approval. When things go wrong, we get frustrated. We forget that our day does not belong to us, but rather to God. He has plans for us too. He made us for those plans, and gave us just the right mix of qualities to fulfill those plans. We can look at each day as an adventure with our heavenly Father!
God had a very special plan for Tobias also. Because of his sufferings, Tobias could not work. His family became very poor. Tobias had a son, also named Tobias. Tobias told his son to collect some money owed him by a man who lived far away.
God sent the angel Raphael to help young Tobias on his journey. On the way, they caught a fish and Raphael told young Tobias to keep the gall of the fish. Later on, they met a woman named Sara, whom young Tobias eventually married, according to God’s plan. The trip was a success. The money was collected and they all returned home.
When they arrived, Raphael instructed Tobias to anoint his father’s eyes with the fish’s gall. His father was healed and the family thanked Raphael for all he had done. Then Raphael told them “I am the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord…because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee. When I was with you, I was there by the will of God: bless ye him, and sing praises to Him.” (Tob 12)
"O Leader of the house of Israel, who didst appear to Moses in the burning bush, and didst give him the law on Sinai: come and redeem us with Thine outstretched arm."