First Reading: Tobit 6:10-11; 7:1, 9-17; 8:4-9
The angel said to the young man, “Brother, today we shall stay with Raguel. He is your relative, and he has an only daughter named Sarah. I will suggest that she be given to you in marriage, because you are entitled to her and to her inheritance, for you are her only eligible kinsman. When they reached Ecbatana and arrived at the house of Raguel, Sarah met them and greeted them. They returned her greeting, and she brought them into the house. So he communicated the proposal to Raguel. And Raguel said to Tobias, “Eat, drink, and be merry; for it is your right to take my child. But let me explain the true situation to you. I have given my daughter to seven husbands, and when each came to her he died in the night. But for the present be merry.” And Tobias said, “I will eat nothing here until you make a binding agreement with me.” So Raguel said, “Take her right now, in accordance with the law. You are her relative, and she is yours. The merciful God will guide you both for the best.” Then he called his daughter Sarah, and taking her by the hand he gave her to Tobias to be his wife, saying, “Here she is; take her according to the law of Moses, and take her with you to your father.” And he blessed them. Next he called his wife Edna, and took a scroll and wrote out the contract; and they set their seals to it. Then they began to eat. And Raguel called his wife Edna and said to her, “Sister, make up the other room, and take her into it.” So she did as he said, and took her there; and the girl began to weep. But the mother comforted her daughter in her tears, and said to her, “Be brave, my daughter. May the Lord of heaven grant you joy in place of your grief. Courage, my daughter.” Then she left. …When the door was shut and the two were alone, Tobias got up from the bed and said, “Sister, get up, and let us pray that the Lord may have mercy upon us.” And Tobias began to pray, “Blessed art thou, O God of our fathers, and blessed be thy holy and glorious name for ever. Let the heavens and all thy creatures bless thee. Thou madest Adam and gavest him Eve his wife as a helper and support. From them the race of mankind has sprung. Thou didst say, `It is not good that the man should be alone; let us make a helper for him like himself.’ And now, O Lord, I am not taking this sister of mine because of lust, but with sincerity. Grant that I may find mercy and may grow old together with her.” And she said with him, “Amen.” Then they both went to sleep for the night. But Raguel arose and went and dug a grave.</p
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 128:1-5
Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Lo, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD. The LORD bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life!
Gospel: Mark 12:28-34
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, `Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any question.
The Responsorial Psalm seems like an unfulfilled promise for so many of us, doesn’t it? “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways!”
What about Sarah and her parents, Edna and Raguel? The Book of Tobit tells us that they were a godly family, yet she was widowed seven times by a demon lurking in their home. That sounds more like a horror film than the tale of a blessed family.
And what about you? Maybe you are unmarried or infertile or struggling to make ends meet. You are living as you ought, walking in the ways of the Lord, yet your life does not feel prosperous but barren.
Personally, I fall into the last group. Despite the fact that it feels like we are making good decisions and living in a way that honors God there is often time between when the money runs out and the next paycheck comes. In that time I feel anxious, worried, and like a failure of a homemaker.
I can look at my home, my kids, and my marriage and know that I am blessed, but it sure doesn’t feel that way. In those moments I wonder how close to the Kingdom of God Christ would say I am. It feels rather far away.
As I consider this I know why, too: I am failing at the greatest commandment. I am not loving God as I ought.
Instead of putting God first and the blessings He’s given me second, I make myself an idol to rule my life, and usually that idol is The Joneses. I’m not actually looking at my sturdy, cute home; my healthy, kind children; and my happy, fulfilling marriage. I am looking past them all to the things I cannot have: Disney vacations, gym memberships, six-figure incomes, and a coffee shop habit I can afford.
Maybe you are doing the same thing. Perhaps you, too, are looking past all that is truly good and letting what you’re lacking be all that you see.
Let us fill our days with gratitude and joy for what we have. Let us put God first and love Him so that the Psalm isn’t an unfulfilled promise but an exact description of our lives! Pray to love the Lord our God with all our heart, our mind, and our strength.
Bonnie Engstrom is a writer, baker, speaker and homemaker. She lives with her husband and five children in central Illinois. You can find out more about her here.