Memorial of Saint Justin, Martyr
Tobit 2: 9-14, Mark 12: 13-17
Tobit is an interesting story about an honest and just man who was committed to obeying God’s commandments and giving to the poor, at all costs. Today’s reading begins after Tobit returned from burying a murder victim. St. Ambrose wrote, “Nothing is more excellent than this duty, to give to him who can no longer make a return to you, to deliver from the birds, to deliver from the beasts your companion in nature.” Then comes the sting. Exhausted after performing the good work of burying the dead, he fell asleep next to the courtyard wall. There, he was blinded when droppings fell from a swallow’s nest fell into his eyes. Because of his physical blindness, he was unable to perform his usual works of mercy. He who had shown mercy to others now needed to rely on the generosity of others.
The clash between Tobit and his wife reveals his hidden blindness. He was unable to admit that his wife was just as righteous as he. He was blind to the wonders of grace that God was working in the life of his wife. Luckily, she held the mirror for him and allowed him to look into his heart. It is not enough to pour oneself out in the service of others. One must also willing to be served by others. The heart that has been touched by love turns to God. In this encounter, the individual is filled with joy and gratitude. In their darkest hours, the Fire of Divine love consumes them and turns their sadness into joy.
We must learn to call out to God who is our rock and stronghold. We need to ask him to enlighten the eyes of our hearts that we may cling to the hope that is ours as his children. When we are feeling most vulnerable, we need to turn to the Lord who manifests his strength in weakness. It is when we are down and out, that Christ extends his nail-scarred hand to pick us up. It is not what we do that causes God to turn His attention towards us, but rather, what we need. God desires to redeem everything that we hand over to His will and power.
By Gerard Manley Hopkins
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.