Thursday, June 04, 2015

Praise God’s Holy Name

By Colleen O’Sullivan

Tobit got up and stumbled out through the courtyard gate.  Tobiah went up to him with the fish gall in his hand, and holding him firmly, blew into his eyes.  “Courage, father,” he said.  Next he smeared the medicine on his eyes, and it made them smart.  Then, beginning at the corners of Tobit’s eyes, Tobiah used both hands to peel off the cataracts.  When Tobit saw his son, he threw his arms around him and wept.  He exclaimed, “I can see you, son, the light of my eyes!”  (Tobit 11:10-14a)

The Lord gives sight to the blind. The Lord raises up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the just.  The Lord protects strangers. (Psalm 146:8-9a)

Blessed be God, and praised be his great name, and blessed be all his holy angels. May his holy name be praised throughout all the ages, Because it was he who scourged me, and it is he who has had mercy on me. (Tobit 11:14b-15a)

In preparation for this Daily Tripod, I decided to reread the Book of Tobit.  What a beautiful story!  I like opera and the further I read, the more I thought what a wonderful opera this story would make.   Anna and Tobit, the mezzo-soprano and the baritone.  Tobiah, the tenor, and Sarah, the soprano.  Raphael, the almost-requisite character in disguise.  The background story of Tobit, the exiled righteous Israelite, who gives fallen Israelites proper burials, the tragic moment when Tobit is made blind, God sending the angel Raphael to watch over Tobit’s young son and to be God’s instrument of healing, the drama of the son Tobiah’s journey, the parents anxiously waiting at home, the fish attack at the Tigris River, Tobiah’s homecoming with his lovely bride, the healing of Tobit’s blindness, the spontaneous song of praise and thanksgiving.  I can almost hear the gorgeous aria one could compose based on that prayer of gratitude.

But there’s no need to spend an afternoon at the opera or to reread the entire book (although I highly recommend doing so) to be familiar with the story line, because it’s one that plays out again and again in our own lives.  It’s not primarily a story about Tobit or Tobiah or any of the other characters.  It’s the eternal tale of how God works in our lives to promote wholeness and healing.  In this Scripture passage, God accomplishes that by sending the archangel Raphael.  Later in history, God sends his only Son into our world to bring us redemption and salvation.  God is always sending people into our lives or placing us in situations that become instruments of his desire for our well-being.

Sometimes healing stings at first just as the fish ointment stung Tobit’s eyes.  It was necessary, though, to apply the fish gall in order to remove the cataracts.  It seems paradoxical, but often it’s in times of pain that God is most able to reach us, to draw us to him, to lay his healing hand upon our troubled hearts.

Look back over your life.  When have you experienced God’s healing touch?  Did you sing a song of thanksgiving and gratitude to the Lord?

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