9th Wednesday in Ordinary Time
Tobit 3:1-11,16-17a; Mark :12:18-27
The lengthy first reading today introduces us to the story of Tobit, and in doing so adroitly provides the social and political circumstances in which the action takes place. There is considerable art in the structure of this book which has a place among the inspired writings of the Old Testament. The passage we encounter today is an effective presentation of this lively story. In spite of treating of an unhappy, even dangerous period of Jewish history the tale it tells within this unhappy period of the history of God’s chosen people has an optimistic note that ends by dominating the lesson imparted by this masterful work to the reader. The impression it conveys after reading the whole is that those who put their trust in God win out in the end. The story it tells today invites us to follow up this engaging beginning and discover where it leads.
Turning to the Gospel passage we have just heard, we note that it continues the account Mark gives of a series of encounters with his opponents. The text for Monday began with the opening verses of the 12th chapter of Mark telling of Jesus’s encounter and debate with the chief priests, scribes, and Jewish elders. He used a parable to make the point that he was sent by the God to claim the obedience that is His due, but will be put to death for his faithful obedience. Then yesterday, taking up the immediately following words of his text, Mark describes how our Lord so deftly foiled the attempt of some Pharisees and Herodians to ensnare him by leading him to speak for or against paying tax to Caesar. How cleverly the Lord restated the issue to such an extent that Mark tells us even hs attackers were utterly amazed at him.
A lesson that we today do well to learn from this account is that our Lord sees clearly behind the surface of our lives into the hidden depths of our interior self. Saint Benedict, very sensitive to this presence of God to us, is at pains to assure that we so live out our days as to remain aware that in all our thoughts and acts we remain in the presence of our heavenly Father.