Memory of the Church

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Tobit 8,10-21

He had thought, 'Heaven grant he does not die! We should be overwhelmed with ridicule and shame.'

When the grave was ready, Raguel went back to the house, called his wife

and said, 'Will you send a maid to the room to see if Tobias is still alive? For if he is dead, we may be able to bury him without anyone else knowing.'

They sent the maid, lit the lamp, opened the door and the maid went in. She found the two fast asleep together;

she came out again and whispered, 'He is not dead; all is well.'

Then Raguel blessed the God of heaven with these words: You are blessed, my God, with every blessing that is pure; may you be blessed for evermore!

You are blessed for having made me glad. What I feared has not happened, instead you have shown us your boundless mercy.

You are blessed for taking pity on this only son, this only daughter. Grant them, Master, your mercy and your protection; let them live out their lives in happiness and in mercy.

And he made his servants fill the grave in before dawn broke.

He told his wife to make an ovenful of bread; he went to his flock, brought back two oxen and four sheep and gave orders for them to be cooked; and preparations began.

He called Tobias and said, 'I will not hear of your leaving here for a fortnight. You are to stay where you are, eating and drinking, with me. You will make my daughter happy again after all her troubles.

After that, take away a half of all I have, and take her safe and sound back to your father. When my wife and I are dead you shall have the other half. Courage, my boy! I am your father, and Edna is your mother. We are your parents in future, as we are your sister's. Courage, my son!'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

When the wedding celebration is over, the young bride and groom go to the bridal chamber. Remembering the words of the angel Raphael, Tobias takes the fish’s liver and heart and burns them in the brazier. At this point, Asmodeus quits the place and flees far off to the remote regions of Egypt, where he is caught by Raphael and put in chains. It is an image of the constant struggle between good and evil, and the author demonstrates the victory over evil with his portrayal of the angel’s exploits. In this case, we could say that the Lord frees love from the selfishness that leads people to close in on themselves and to live only for themselves without taking other people into consideration. This victory over the instinct to live solely for oneself can only occur if we obey the word of the angel, who himself will bind the strength of evil. Tobias and Sarah then begin to pray. It is the third prayer that appears in the book and it is the only prayer about a married couple present anywhere in Holy Scripture. It could be considered the biblical icon of married people’s prayer. It opens with a triple benediction and continues with an explicit reference to the passage in the book of Genesis concerning marriage (Gen 2:18-25). Tobias reveals to God his desire to take Sarah for his wife, not so much out of passion but with sincerity. It is as if to say that he is choosing to marry not to satisfy himself, but to fulfil the "truth" hidden in every human heart, which is summarized in the words cited from Genesis: "It is not good that the man should be alone." The vocation of humanity is not solitude, but communion, beginning with the communion of family. The prayer concludes with a supplication to God to grant them his mercy and accompany them throughout their entire lives: "Grant that she and I may find mercy and that we may grow old together." And together - here Sarah unites her voice to Tobias’ - they conclude: "Amen, Amen." When they have finished praying, the bride and groom go to sleep and seal their marriage with their union, fulfilling what is written in Genesis: "a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Gen 2:24). All forms of communion, like the communion of marriage, demand that we make a break with the past to unite ourselves with those whom the Lord gives us as companions.