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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

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Tobit 2, 9-14

That night I took a bath; then I went into the courtyard and lay down by the courtyard wall. Since it was hot I left my face uncovered.

I did not know that there were sparrows in the wall above my head; their hot droppings fell into my eyes. This caused white spots to form, which I went to have treated by the doctors. But the more ointments they tried me with, the more the spots blinded me, and in the end, I became completely blind. I remained without sight four years; all my brothers were distressed on my behalf; and Ahikar provided for my upkeep for two years, until he left for Elymais.

My wife Anna then undertook woman's work; she would spin wool and take cloth to weave;

she used to deliver whatever had been ordered from her and then receive payment. Now on the seventh day of the month of Dystros, she finished a piece of work and delivered it to her customers. They paid her all that was due, and into the bargain presented her with a kid for a meal.

When the kid came into my house, it began to bleat. I called to my wife and said, 'Where does this creature come from? Suppose it has been stolen! Let the owners have it back; we have no right to eat stolen goods'.

She said, 'No, it was a present given me over and above my wages.' I did not believe her, and told her to give it back to the owners (I felt deeply ashamed of her). To which, she replied, 'What about your own alms? What about your own good works? Everyone knows what return you have had for them.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the third misfortune to befall Tobit (vv. 9-10), after the loss of his possessions and the sadness of the feast of Pentecost. Because of the bird droppings that fell into his eyes from the nest under which he had fallen asleep, Tobit rapidly becomes blind. The doctors’ treatments are worthless. Just as in the Book of Job (see Job 2:9), emphasis is given to the negative reaction of the protagonist’s wife, upon whose work Tobit is now dependent. Under the weight of this misfortune, Tobit reveals his limits when he overreacts to the goat his wife had obtained for Passover. His wife also overreacts, and reveals her lack of religious conviction, “Where are your acts of charity? Where are your righteous deeds? These things are known about you!” With these words, Tobit’s wife takes a line similar to the one taken by Job’s friends: what good is it to have done all of these good deeds, when they seem to be repaid with evil? Like Job, did Tobit perhaps commit some serious sin? Many other questions follow. Tobit looks for his wife’s understanding, but he does not find it. In truth, the relationship between Tobit and Anna is portrayed in a much more positive light later in the story, but at this moment, Tobit’s loneliness is striking. He finds himself alone before God. But even in pain the believer can find new motivation to entrust his life to God’s hands. Against this background of pain, Tobit will find the strength to make his plea to God.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord