Beneath the contentiousness that plays a large role in today’s readings – a marital spat between Tobit and his wife Anna, and Jesus’ verbal jousting with leading religious figures of his day over a simmering controversy – we may discover a call to integrity. Tobit is reminded, by Anna’s sharp retort, that ‘charity begins at home’! This genuinely good man who has earned a deserved reputation for charity and good deeds in the exiled Jewish community, is called to "walk the talk", to practice what he preaches, to include those he shares life with as objects of his kindness and charity. He is called to integrity, to wholeness. And, in Mark’s gospel reading we see Jesus ensnared in the "culture wars" of his own day. It was dangerous to be honest! Yet that is the course he chose, taking the risk of offending powerful people, incurring their wrath, getting on their ‘wrong’ side. We could never imagine him doing anything less, so deeply committed to truthfulness was He! The Jesus we know from the Gospel’s is one in whom the human trait of integrity has become a guiding force for his words and deeds. One with the Father, he wants his human behavior to be one with, to be expressive of, the great inclinations of His heart.
Today’s readings are a challenging word for us religious people! The true proof of a loving heart is our treatment of those God has given us, those familiar folks in our lives it is so easy to forget about. The true test of religious conviction is public truthfulness, even when inconvenient, unpopular or controversial. May we pray that His Word will find a true, welcome home in our hearts and shape us to be people of wholeness and integrity.