In almost every adventure story, there comes a point when the father figure or mentor dies, passing on all his wisdom to the hero. You see it in Star Wars, when Obi-Wan sacrifices himself to save Luke and when Yoda passes away in Return of the Jedi. In the sixth Harry Potter book, Dumbledore dies (in the distance you can hear a million Harry Potter fans screaming in protest) as part of a plan to take down Voldemort once and for all.
Tobit’s advice for Tobias and Sarah is to move to Media because Nineveh and Assyria will be overtaken. He foresaw that the people of Israel will be scattered but eventually they will return to Jerusalem again.
A great example of a wise man whose words are still being followed today is St. Benedict, the founder of the practice of monasticism. If you’ve ever heard of Benedictine monks, the men of that order are spiritual descendants of St. Benedict. Lay people can still participate in the Order of St. Benedict by associating themselves with a Benedictine community and becoming what are called “oblates.”
Oblates, according to the official Benedictine Oblates website, don’t live in a community or take any sort of vow. Instead, they are merely ordinary people who carry out the wisdom of St. Benedict in their everyday lives. Elizabeth Scalia of Aleteia is a Benedicitne Oblate and she shared this with me: “The first word of the Rule of St. Benedict is ‘Listen’ and Benedictines take that very seriously and try to incorporate the attitude of ‘listening’ into every facet of our lives.” Another thing associated with Benedictine Oblates is the idea of combining prayer and work. So let’s look at how listening, prayer, and working apply to this passage
Let’s look at how my friend’s words apply to what’s happened so far. Tobit gives Tobias and Sarah an example of someone who didn’t listen to God and ended up paying the price. In contrast, Tobit, Tobias, Sarah, and Anna have all listened to God’s will and their lives are much better because of it. Tobias and Sarah began their marriage with a prayer and have been rewarded with children. Finally, the two of them are given the task of burying Tobit and Anna and then leaving for Media.
There’s a bit of Shakespearean elegance to the fact that even though Tobit is dying and Anna will eventually pass away, the legacy of their family will continue on through Tobias, Sarah, and their grandchildren. In a similar way, the ones we love never truly leave us because we carry their wisdom with us if we learn how to listen to them, pray for God’s guidance, and then work to apply the wisdom from both our loved ones and God into our daily lives.
I hope that you look more into the Order of St. Benedict. If you’re not convinced, he has a twin sister named St. Scholastica who founded a monastic order for women.
STUDY QUESTIONS: What are ways that you can actively listen in your daily life? Write about a time when actively listening has helped your relationships with other people. What was the best advice you’ve ever received from someone who has passed away?