Tobit 8: Expulsion of the Demon
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
This is a story which everyone needs to read often. From the NAB Catholic Study Edition: “The Book of Tobit is a complex literary work with a very uncomplicated moral. The book narrates important incidents in the lives of three people: Tobit, Sarah, and Tobiah. It tells the story of their tragedies and triumphs. The author weaves the stories of these three people together very skillfully so that the book results from the intersection of three different but related plots. This rhetorical feat of weaving the stories of these three people so tightly has a theological purpose. The author wishes to show how God can mange the circumstances of people’s lives in order to bring God’s plans to fulfillment. Its primary religious message is simple: God rewards those who are faithful.” This is a message we need to hear.
The book is considered by some as a religious novel only, while others see it as inspired by the Holy Spirit. We like the story because it tells of healing. And this healing happens through the Archangel Raphael through whom, “God manages . . . circumstances in order to ensue that God’s own purposes come to fruition. The story assumes God’s sovereignty in people’s lives and God’s determination to reward the just. When the just suffer, there is a limit to that suffering. Once that limit occurs, God will intervene. Sometimes that intervention is miraculous.” This is a message we want to take in.
God considers that Sarah has suffered enough and so he confronts the demon who is enamored of this young woman, but the confrontation occurs in a quiet way. This demon, as we hear earlier in 6:15, “loves her, [so] he does not harm her; but he does slay any man who wishes to come close to her.” So rather than wage battle, as we humans would do, God sends Raphael to accompany the young Tobias, who in turn expulses the demon using means given him by Raphael – which is the part of the story we hear today. The footnotes in the NAB point out that this is not an exorcism. Rather, the demon retreats because of the power of the earnest prayer of the two young people. From the footnotes, “It is clear that the author places primary emphasis on the value of prayer to God, on the role of the angel as God’s agent, and on the pious dispositions of Tobiah.”
What can we take away from all of this? It is clear and simple. The faithful need not wage war. They need not struggle against life’s obstacles. Rather, they must seek healing through God, remain faithful to their covenant promise, practice authentic prayer, and they must believe in miracles. This is a message we will want to remember.
And so we petition our good and gracious God.
Keep us always watchful for the angels you send to us – even though we are so busy that we often miss them.
Call us in such a way that we are open to your healing miracles – because we need them.
Look kindly on us as we struggle along the torturous pathways of this life – because we are nothing without you.
Keep us ever mindful of your desire to do all good things for us – even as we rail against the suffering which disciplines us so well.
May we join with young Tobias and Sarah as they prayed to you, “’Blessed are you, O God of our fathers; praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. . .’ They said together, ‘Amen, amen,’ and went to bed for the night.”
Today we remember as we reflect . . . we are Easter People.
Adapted from a Favorite written on June 5, 2007.