When Tobit and Tobias talk about paying “Azariah” the money he is due for traveling and all the help he has done for the family, Tobias decides on giving his traveling companion half of the money that he received from Sarah’s family at the wedding. If any of you have gone to a wedding, you might have participated in the “money dance,” in which the partygoers give a dollar to the bride and groom for the honeymoon and for times ahead. What Tobias plans to give Raphael is probably a lot more than that.
Have you ever wanted to repay a friend for their kindness by giving them something in return? I often try to make an effort to remember my friends’ birthdays without checking Facebook and send them some kind of gift, even if it’s just a birthday greeting or a nice picture. There are many ways to show your friends gratitude for the things they’ve done for you. First, figure out your love language and then figure out which love language your friends would respond to the most. It’ll definitely help when it comes time to get them a present!
Raphael chooses to show his gratitude to Tobias and Tobit by giving them some advice. He reminds them to give gratitude to God, to keep doing good, especially through prayer and fasting, and to be generous through almsgiving.
Let’s break down each of the things that Raphael advises and see how we can apply them to our own lives. A good way to begin praising God and offering him our gratitude is through our morning prayers. Every morning, I pray the Morning Offering from the Divine Office, also known as the Liturgy of the Hours. Psalm 92 is one of the Psalms prayed in this daily prayer. There are other types of Morning Prayers as well, including this one. There are also other prayers in the Divine Office that you can pray throughout the day. (Which means if you’re working the night shift, feel free to offer up a Night Prayer!)
We normally associate prayer and fasting with the season of Lent, but there is an old tradition of abstaining from meat for every Friday throughout the year and it’s a practice many Catholics still stick to today. If you have dietary issues like me, try fasting from something else that takes up more time than it should or a bad habit that you want to kick. Try fasting from the news or from social media or gossiping.
Finally, Raphael gives advice about almsgiving. When you read today’s passage from 1 Kings, keep in mind that the widow was a very vulnerable, poor woman. It’s seems almost laughable that a woman who is living during a drought and down to her last meal is asked by Elijah for water and a cake. And yet, because of her willingness to be generous, she is rewarded. There’s a similarity in the Gospel of Mark. The wealthy people were making a show of their generosity, and yet this widow enters in and Jesus gives His attention to her because she is willing to give everything she has. Listen to this homily from Bishop Robert Barron that reflects on the passage from 1 Kings and the Gospel of Mark.
Find ways to live out Raphael’s advice in your own life. Try to put the actions of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving into your daily routine whether it’s Lent or not.
StUDY QUESTIONS: What are ways that we can fast daily even when it’s not Lent? If you’ve ever fasted, how has it changed your perspectives on patience and gratitude? When is your preferred prayer time? Do you try to pray throughout the day or do you pray in the morning and evening? How do you think you can give alms or do something kind on a daily basis?