Tobit 3:24-25: The Mystery of Trusting Wisdom
The Third Sunday of Lent, March 19, 2017
We recall the lessons we learned with these verses yesterday: God is good, we are good, life is brutal and unpredictable but also good because it brings us to God; the faithful need not fight, they only need to stand and refuse to do anything that causes them to abandon their God.
There is nothing more important to hear, to learn or to repeat to others than the lessons Tobit teaches us today. All human suffering can be quenched by these precepts. All human understanding is capable of taking in these ideas; but not all humans have the will to enact what they hear. That is why we cannot read this story too often.
Wisdom is sometimes defined as patience in the waiting to hear God’s voice. One definition puts wisdom in its proper place as coming from God over time – in God’s time and not in our time. When we think of the wise people we know, we discover that they share a few characteristics in common.
- Wise people do not often react instantly to an emotional moment; they pause to allow God to speak through them.
- Wise people declare their thoughts with the wisdom of ages; they have spent a good portion of their lives with and in scripture.
- Wise people display a certain amount of serenity; they know that all that surrounds them is not real, the justice of the next world, not this.
- Wise people do not regularly become impatient; they understand that we are here to practice for that which is real, the love of the next world, not this.
- Wise people display and embody empathy; they have suffered a great deal, and they have allowed themselves to be transformed by this suffering.
- Wise people do not think first of saving themselves; they have made their suffering salvific, and freely give themselves as co-redeemers with Christ.
The wisdom of the book of Tobit is just this kind of wisdom. In this story, wisdom maintains her mystery; she is seen as the ultimate act of stepping into the abyss with God. The ultimate act of suffering for and through God. The ultimate act of trust in God.
Wisdom rises from suffering, endures in fidelity, heals in love, restores in hope, and lives in trust. We can never hear this story too often.
Adapted from a reflection written on March 10, 2008.