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 6, 10-11; 7,1-17.4-9

They entered Media and had nearly reached Ecbatana

when Raphael said to the boy, 'Brother Tobias.' 'Yes?' he replied. The angel went on, 'Tonight we are to stay with Raguel, who is a kinsman of yours. He has a daughter called Sarah,

As they entered Ecbatana, Tobias said, 'Brother Azarias, take me at once to our brother Raguel's.' And he showed him the way to the house of Raguel, whom they found sitting beside his courtyard door. They greeted him first, and he replied, 'Welcome and greetings, brothers.' And he took them into his house.

He said to his wife Edna, 'How like my brother Tobit this young man is!'

Edna asked them where they came from; they said, 'We are sons of Naphtali exiled in Nineveh.'

'Do you know our brother Tobit?' 'Yes.' 'How is he?'

'He is alive and well.' And Tobias added, 'He is my father.'

Raguel leapt to his feet and kissed him and wept.

Then, finding words, he said, 'Blessings on you, child! You are the son of a noble father. How sad it is that someone so bright and full of good deeds should have gone blind!' He fell on the neck of his kinsman Tobias and wept.

And his wife Edna wept for him, and so did his daughter Sarah.

Raguel killed a ram from the flock, and they gave them a warm welcome. They washed and bathed and sat down to table. Then Tobias said to Raphael, 'Brother Azarias, will you ask Raguel to give me my sister Sarah?'

Raguel overheard the words, and said to the young man, 'Eat and drink, and make the most of your evening; no one else has the right to take my daughter Sarah -- no one but you, my brother. In any case even I am not at liberty to give her to anyone else, since you are her next of kin. However, my boy, I must be frank with you:

I have tried to find a husband for her seven times among our kinsmen, and all of them have died the first evening, on going to her room. But for the present, my boy, eat and drink; the Lord will grant you his grace and peace.' Tobias spoke out, 'I will not hear of eating and drinking till you have come to a decision about me.' Raguel answered, 'Very well. Since, by the prescription of the Book of Moses she is given to you, Heaven itself decrees she shall be yours. I therefore entrust your sister to you. From now on you are her brother and she is your sister. She is given to you from today for ever. The Lord of heaven favour you tonight, my child, and grant you his grace and peace.'

Raguel called for his daughter Sarah, took her by the hand and gave her to Tobias with these words, 'I entrust her to you; the law and the ruling recorded in the Book of Moses assign her to you as your wife. Take her; bring her home safe and sound to your father's house. The God of heaven grant you a good journey in peace.'

Then he turned to her mother and asked her to fetch him writing paper. He drew up the marriage contract, and so he gave his daughter as bride to Tobias according to the ordinance of the Law of Moses.

After this they began to eat and drink.

Raguel called his wife Edna and said, 'My sister, prepare the second room and take her there.'

She went and made the bed in this room as he had ordered, and took her daughter to it. She wept over her, then wiped away her tears and said, 'Courage, daughter! May the Lord of heaven turn your grief to joy! Courage, daughter!' And she went out.

The parents meanwhile had gone out and shut the door behind them. Tobias rose from the bed, and said to Sarah, 'Get up, my sister! You and I must pray and petition our Lord to win his grace and his protection.'

She stood up, and they began praying for protection, and this was how he began: You are blessed, O God of our fathers; blessed too is your name for ever and ever. Let the heavens bless you and all things you have made for evermore.

You it was who created Adam, you who created Eve his wife to be his help and support; and from these two the human race was born. You it was who said, 'It is not right that the man should be alone; let us make him a helper like him.'

And so I take my sister not for any lustful motive, but I do it in singleness of heart. Be kind enough to have pity on her and on me and bring us to old age together.

And together they said, 'Amen, Amen,'

and lay down for the night. But Raguel rose and called his servants, who came and helped him dig a grave.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The encounter between Tobit and Sarah was a healing encounter: Sarah was freed from a nightmare of death and Tobit from loneliness. But what for the two young people was a night of salvation and fruitful rest, was, for Sarah’s parents, a night of anxiety, filled with the fear of death. Truth be told, Edna had wished for God’s blessing for her daughter, “the Lord of heaven grant you joy in place of your sorrow” (7:17). Raguel, on the other hand, like his daughter, cannot bear the thought that he will end up the subject of everyone’s gossip once again. He gets up and goes to dig a ditch with two trusted servants. Tobias came from far away, and no one knew him, and so they could pretend that he had left the same evening. When everything is ready, Raguel has his wife check what had happened in the wedding chamber by sending a servant to see. What they were afraid of had not occurred. The husband and wife are sleeping peacefully. When they hear this, the two parents give thanks to the Lord. It is the fourth prayer that we find in the book of Tobit (vv. 15-17). Like the others, it begins with a blessing addressed to the Lord (v. 15) because of his great mercy, which has guided their lives. And it ends with a request for help, not for themselves, but for Tobias and Sarah, both of whom they now consider as their children and both of whom they entrust to the Lord. At this point, there is no use for the ditch. Day breaks and joy enters the house; they prepare a banquet that seems to go on forever. Raguel wants to celebrate for twice the ordinary time, as if to make up for the time of affliction born by their daughter (and her parents) and then the banquet begins again in Tobias’ house. Fourteen days of celebration are twice as many as normal: Sarah’s wedding is truly something exceptional. And the half of his possessions that Raguel gives Tobias is an act of great generosity that goes beyond the inheritance due to only daughters according to what is prescribed by the law of Moses (Num 27:11).The union of the two young people, which took place under the watch and the protection of the angel, has become a wellspring of life that transforms all things. It is what happens every time the communion between brothers and sisters becomes a concrete dimension of life.