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Daily Devotion for October 2, 2014
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
A pretty baptism song for country music fans.
Prayer for the Morning
Heavenly Father, I do not fear this day, for you are with me wherever I might go, your light to shine ahead, your footsteps to lead the way. I do not fear this day, for your word will be my guide. Your strength will sustain me and your love revive me, this day and all days. I do not fear this day, for you are with me. In the name of Christ, I call upon you.
Thanks for the Gifts of This Life
O God, I thank You for this day of life
for eyes to see the sky
for ears to hear the birds
for feet to walk amidst the trees
for hands to pick the flowers from the earth
for a sense of smell to breathe in the sweet
perfumes of nature
for a mind to think about and appreciate
the magic of everyday miracles
for a spirit to swell in joy at Your mighty presence
[May I learn to let God's love revive me.]
Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine — to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever,
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Tobit 6:10-18 (MB)
Tobias and Sarah
[Catch-up synopsis: Tobias, the son of Tobit (a Jew who was deported from Israel after Assyria conquered it), is travelling to the city of Rages in Media, from his home in Assyria. With him are the archangel Raphael — in disguise as a human kinsman named Azarias — and his dog. The purpose of the visit is to collect money that Tobit had left with his cousin Gabael. We have also met a young woman named Sarah, who lives in Media; she has been married seven times, but all seven grooms were killed by a demon, leaving her a virgin. Also, during the journey Tobias was attacked by a large fish, which tried to eat his foot, but he killed it and, at Raphael's instruction, kept the heart and liver.]
They travelled on to Media, and as they were approaching Rages, Raphael said to Tobias, “Brother, tonight we will lodge with Raguel, your cousin, who has a daughter named Sarah. She must be given to you as a bride if you ask, and her inheritance also, for you are her only cousin. And I must tell you: She is both beautiful and good-natured.
Listen to me; you must speak to her father, and when we return from Rages, we will have a wedding. Raguel must not marry her to a stranger according to the law of Moses; this is Raguel’s duty unto death. You have a right to the inheritance before any other man.”
“But Brother Azarias,” said Tobias, “I have heard that the girl has been wedded to seven men, and all of them died in the bridal chamber. I am my father's only son, and I fear that if I go to her, I will die just like the first seven; because a demon loves her and kills men who try to marry her, although he harms nobody else. I will die. And if I die, my mother and father will die from sorrow. And with their only son dead, they would have nobody to bury them!”
The angel replied, “Do you remember the instructions of your father, that you should marry a wife of your own tribe? Listen, she shall be your wife. Pay no heed to this demon, for you will marry her this very night.
When you come into the marriage chamber, bring with you the hot coals of the incense burned at the wedding. Sprinkle them on the heart and liver of the fish you caught, so that they give off smoke. When this devil smells it he will flee away, never to return. And then, when you go to her, do not lie with her immediately. Both of you rise and pray to the merciful God, who will take pity on you and save you.”
“Do not have any fear,” he continued. “She was destined to be your wife from the beginning; and you will keep her, and she will go with you. And she will bear three children of your union.”
Tobias was so stirred by these words that he began to love her. And in his heart he had married her already.
Notes on the Scripture
e see, in this charming passage, two of the themes that run throughout the book of Tobit. First, the importance to the Jews of the diaspora that they marry within their race. This is even more narrowly limited in Tobit to one's tribe or even close family.
Single men in some degree of family relationship to a maiden — we do not know the details, but it seems like Tobias and Sarah are second or third cousins — could claim her for marriage as a right of law. Sarah must marry Tobias if he makes a legal claim to her father. (From the story of Isaac and Rebekah, it would seem Hebrew maidens normally had a right to refuse a marriage. Genesis 24:57-58.) For his part, Tobias has been commanded by Tobit to marry someone in the tribe of Naphtali, and preferably someone in his clan (a subdivision of the tribe). We might guess that this is the only way a Jew, deprived of records and lost in a foreign country, might be assured that a husband or wife was also full-fledged Jew.
Some humor is undoubtedly intended in Tobias’ objections to marrying Sarah; after Tobit's constant obsession with burial, now Tobias' concern is that if he dies, it will kill his parents, but since his death caused their death, he won't be alive to bury them. Tobit is, actually, a comedy in the classical sense; by Grecian standards, comedies could treat serious subjects, but would have a happy ending, and the strain of comic lightness in Tobit signals that things will end well. Still, it must have been a great concern to the Jews, in their struggle to retain their integrity as God's chosen people, that their dead be treated with dignity, rather than thrown on the ground to rot like animals.
We now begin to see, also, some allegorical meaning in Tobit. Tobias, guided by the Archangel Raphael, is a proxy for Yahweh, and Sarah represents the Jewish people. Although they are punished for their idolatry, symbolized the dominion a demon has over Sarah, the Hebrews have not been abandoned by God. The few faithful continue to discharge their obligations to Yahweh under the law of Moses. God, as the bridegroom, will yet honor the covenant He made with Moses and Abraham for these faithful.
The locations are not accidental. It was Assyria to which the Hebrews of the Northern Kingdom were deported; but it is Media, and in fact the very city where Raguel and Sarah live, from which Cyrus the Great will order that Hebrews be allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.