The book of Tobit begins with establishing the time and place of the story. Welcome to Nineveh. Yeah, the place where Jonah had to go to. The first chapter is told in Tobit’s point of view. You might notice how nostalgic he sounds when he described life in Israel. In contrast, Tobit approaches his life in Nineveh very matter-of-factly. Life gets especially hard for Tobit when he gets in trouble for doing what he felt was right. You see, Tobit would bury the bodies of fellow Israelites who were killed by the king of Nineveh. His property was taken away and he and his family were left poor. If it wasn’t for the next king putting a family friend’s son in charge of handling Tobit’s “crime,” Tobit would’ve had a life on the run.
In spite of getting in trouble for burying the dead, Tobit continues to bury his fellow Israelites. When he and his family return to Nineveh, Tobit endures the mockery of his neighbors who don’t understand why he keeps burying the dead even though it was once grounds for his death in the past.
You may not realize it, but Tobit is being a real hero in this situation. He’s always doing the right thing, even when doing so was considered illegal in the eyes of the government. Although Tobit was exiled from his homeland and endured a possible execution, he faced his situation with courage and the resolve to always do what is good no matter what. That, my dear sisters in Christ, is the definition of a hero.
We are very fortunate to live in a country where we are free to pray, go to church, and live out our lives in Christ without fear of breaking any laws. There are times, however, when we get mocked or criticized for doing the right thing. Think of the people who pray in front of abortion clinics. Some people even criticize those who pray in the wake of tragedy, as if prayers are meaningless.
Although it’s nice when people approve or admire the things that we do, we shouldn’t do things in order to seek attention. Never let anyone tell you that the things you do for the Lord are worthless or don’t amount to anything. Instead, meditate on this passage from the Gospel of Matthew:
“But take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
I feel like this passage can also reply to any charitable deed that we do in God’s name.
Today, I challenge you to do an anonymous kind deed. Reach out to a stranger you think is in need of your help. Do a chore you wouldn’t normally do without anyone asking you to. Write a kind note to someone in your office, but don’t sign your name on it. You may not see the rewards of your kindness, but know that it’s enough that God sees the kindness that you do.
STUDY QUESTIONS: Write about the kind anonymous deed that you did. How did you feel when you carried it out? Did you seek out recognition from others or were you content knowing that God was watching? Think of a time people made fun of you for doing the right thing. How do you think you can increase in fortitude (courage) to keep doing what is right without caring about anything else?