Tobit 12:1, 5-15, 20
We finish today the readings from the Book of Tobit. Raphael, a central character in the Book, finally reveals himself as a messenger of God, one of the seven angels who serve God. He was the one who presented to God the prayers of Tobit for sight, Tobiah for a wife, and Sarah for healing from her curse. The family is eternally grateful to Raphael. Tobit tells Tobiah to pay Raphael his wages, plus a big bonus. Raphael, who has no use for money, instructs them to give thanks to God. The way to give thanks to God is to share their possessions with others. "Prayer and fasting are good, but better than either is almsgiving…"
We are reminded of the words of Jesus: "As often as you do it to the least of my brothers and sisters you do it to me." Generosity is the spirit of thanksgiving. If we are truly grateful, we will not hoard our possessions. Jesus criticizes the scribes for their selfish spirit, their desire to be served rather than serve others, thinking about what they could get rather than what they could share, especially with those in need. Jesus points to a poor woman at the treasury of the Temple. She offers two coins. She could have given one coin and kept the other one for her own needs. That sounds very reasonable and prudent. But she gives all the coins she had. What an example of generosity!
The two coins were an insignificant amount, yet her giving received special notice from God. We give because we can’t help ourselves; we’re grateful for all God has done, and we want to give, cheerfully. God will notice.
Proverbs 11:24 reminds us, "The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller."
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is Provincial of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.