Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Charity Begins at Home

First Reading: Tb 2:9-14
Psalm: Ps 112:1-2, 7-9 - The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord.
Gospel: Mk 12:13-17

But she said to me, "It was given to me as a bonus over and above my wages." Yet I would not believe her, and told her to give it back to its owners. I became very angry with her over this. So she retorted: "Where are your charitable deeds now? Where are your virtuous acts? See! Your true character is finally showing itself!" - Tobit 2:14


The first time that I read through today's reading, it did not make sense to me. Why, immediately after doing charitable works (burying the dead is also a work of mercy), was Tobit blinded? Moreover, why was he suddenly distrustful of, and shouting at, his wife?

Later, when I read this passage to my own wife, I felt it necessary to confess that I did not know what this reading was to teach us. She, on the other hand, observed it at once. It is obvious that this man seeks to do what is just and right; even his argument with Anna stems from not wanting to profit unjustly. However, his charitable spirit fails him within his own family, when he refuses to believe his wife.

In our own walk, we are always hearing about the charitable works that one person or another does for the community. The heroic news items about a man who donated a thousand toys to the women's shelter, or the woman who has given a gallon of blood over the last few years. We hold these individuals up as examples of model behavior, as well we should, to encourage others. However, we must not forget that we are called to be patient and loving in our private lives as well.

We might excuse Tobit on account of his situation, blinded, friendless and beggared because of his good deeds. Perhaps this is because we want to make excuses for our own behavior, when we get angry with our family after a long day. Yet we cannot make excuses on the behavior; we can only forgive and ask forgivness for it. The next time you or I feel like lashing out at a wife, husband, brother, sister, parent or child, let us first remember our love for them, then proceed with patience and trust. Charity (agapē love), as they say, begins at home.

Heavenly Father, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. We thank you for those who are close to us, family and friends. Help us, Lord, to see them as you see them, especially in times of weariness or troubles. Grant that we might be charitable to all of our brothers and sisters here on earth and give us the patience and peace necessary to share your love. We ask all of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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