Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions
Thursday June 3, 2021
Tobit 6:10-11; 7:1bcde, 9-17; 8:4-9a; Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5; Mark 12:28-34
Today’s first reading speaks to us, among other things, about the power of prayer, especially in marriage. It also speaks of the importance of inviting God into all the areas of our lives, even those which are most private.
Tobias was the son of Tobit, who we learn earlier in the Book of Tobit, was a holy and righteous man. In these earlier chapters we learn that Tobit would send Tobias on a journey to recover a large sum of money he had deposited 20 years before with a man named Gabri. To locate the place where the money was, Tobias needed a guide. God sent him the angel Raphael to accompany him.
When Tobias and Raphael finally arrive at their destination they go to the home of Raquel, who is Tobias’ relative, to spend the night. Raquel has a daughter named Sarah, with whom Tobias falls in love and he asks Raquel for her hand in marriage.
Tobias learns that Sarah had already married seven others. Through the work of the demon Asmodeus, the king of demons and in particular the demon of lust, each man died in the bridal chamber on his wedding night before consummatıng the marriage. It seems as though this demon had a jealous desire to keep Sarah for himself. Based on her past experience with seven other husbands, she and her Father both had good reason to believe that the same fate was awaiting Tobias. In fact, Sarah’s father was so convinced of Tobias’ imminent death that he began digging Tobias’ grave when they retired to the bridal chamber.
Tobias knows that if he is to conquer death through love, he must be mindful of Raphael’s instructions. The angel had given him various pieces of advice on how to free himself from the demon’s grip.
Above all, however, Raphael recommended prayer. He said to Tobias ”When you enter the bridal chamber, when you approach her, rise up, both of you, and cry out to the merciful God, and he will save you and have mercy on you.”
An important lesson from this story of Tobias and Sarah is that nothing solidifies spousal union more than the shared experience of prayer, coupled with a common goal of facing and overcoming great trials with the help of God’s grace. Tobias and Sarah witness to the fact that there is no trial in married life, not even the prospect of death, that prayer cannot overcome.
Sarah and Tobias pray together on their wedding night before consummating the marriage, asking God to have mercy on them and to bless their relationship and allow them to live together to a happy old age. In this way they open themselves to God’s perfect love, and consummate the marriage in love, rather than in the passion of lust. It is this love of God that makes the power of the demon useless and unlike the 7 others, Tobias lives.
Today let all of us who are married reflect on whether or not we invite God into our marriage by praying with our spouse daily. If you are not in the practice of praying together, ask God how you might get started. Perhaps it’s as simple as praying grace before meals. Maybe it’s taking 5 minutes together before bed each night to thank God for his blessings that day.
However you go about it, know that by approaching God in prayer as a couple, God will bless and strengthen your marriage, healing you of all that may divide you. Praying together in marriage is essential to receive the fullness of God’s gift of love, giving you the grace you need to live together as one body in Christ.
God bless you.