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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Tobit 11,1-18

They were nearly at Kaserin, opposite Nineveh,

when Raphael said, 'You know the plight in which we left your father;

let us go on ahead of your wife and prepare the house ourselves while she travels behind with the others.'

They went on together (Raphael warned Tobias to take the gall with him) and the dog followed them.

Anna was sitting, watching the road by which her son would come.

She was sure at once it must be he and said to the father, 'Here comes your son, with his companion.'

Raphael said to Tobias before he reached his father, 'I give you my word that your father's eyes will open.

You must put the fish's gall to his eyes; the medicine will smart and will draw a filmy white skin off his eyes. And your father will no more be blind but will be able to see the light.'

The mother ran forward and threw her arms round her son's neck. 'Now I can die,' she said, 'I have seen you again.' And she wept.

Tobit rose to his feet and stumbled across the courtyard through the door. Tobias came on towards him

(he had the fish's gall in his hand). He blew into his eyes and said, steadying him, 'Take courage, father!' With this he applied the medicine, left it there a while,

then with both hands peeled away a filmy skin from the corners of his eyes.

Then his father fell on his neck

and wept. He exclaimed, 'I can see you, my son, the light of my eyes!' And he said: Blessed be God! Blessed be his great name! Blessed be all his holy angels! Blessed be his great name for evermore!

For, having afflicted me, he has had pity on me and now I see my son Tobias! Tobias went indoors, joyfully blessing God at the top of his voice. Then he told his father everything; how his journey had been successful and he had brought the silver back; how he had married Sarah the daughter of Raguel; how she was following him now, close behind, and could not be far from the gates of Nineveh.

Tobit set off to the gates of Nineveh to meet his daughter-in-law, giving joyful praise to God as he went. When the people of Nineveh saw him walking without a guide and stepping forward as briskly as of old, they were astonished.

Tobit described to them how God had taken pity on him and had opened his eyes. Then Tobit met Sarah the bride of his son Tobias, and blessed her in these words. 'Welcome, daughter! Blessed be your God for sending you to us, my daughter. Blessings on your father, blessings on my son Tobias, blessings on yourself, my daughter. Welcome now to your own house in joyfulness and in blessedness. Come in, my daughter.' That day brought joy to the Jews of Nineveh,

and his cousins Ahikar and Nadab came to share in Tobit's happiness.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In this scene describing Tobias’ return home, it is the angel Raphael who first takes the initiative. When they reach the outskirts of Nineveh, Raphael (which means "God heals") turns to Tobias and tells him what he must do when he meets his father. Tobias obeys; as soon as he sees his father he embraces him. This reunion occurs in the same courtyard (v. 10) where Tobit had lost his sight. Like Jacob did with Joseph, as soon as he sees his son (Gen 46:30) Tobit throws his arms around his neck and says: "Light of my eyes." Tobias smears the fish gall on his eyes and Tobit regains his sight. Everything comes from the angel’s words. And Tobias now knows well that if he listens to what the angel says and puts it into practice, that word will be effective. In effect, the Word needs to be returned to the first place in our lives so that God’s plan for us, that is our salvation, may come true. Having regained his sight, Tobit turns to God to bless him and thank him for showing to him mercy and not punishment. In just a few verses, the verb "to bless" appears eight times. When he sees his father’s joy, Tobias cannot contain his own: "So Tobit went in rejoicing and praising God at the top of his voice" (v. 15). Many of the inhabitants of Nineveh joined them in rejoicing at what had happened. For his part Tobit "acknowledged that God had been merciful to him and had restored his sight" (v. 17). This father’s joy at welcoming his son’s wife at the gates of the city is contagious. The entire Jewish community of Nineveh celebrates Sarah’s entrance while Tobit blesses her, once again emphasizing God’s involvement in their lives. The resulting feast seems like a new wedding celebration in which the principle actor is no longer Tobias, but his elderly father Tobit, who saw the last years of his life blessed by the Lord in an extraordinary way. His overwhelming joy spreads not only to the entire community, it also breaks down the wall of mistrust that Nabad and Ahikar had built against Tobit and they come to congratulate him and are reconciled with him. The joy of a believer is contagious, and it changes the world.

Memory of the Poor