Sometimes Scripture is uplifting.
And sometimes Scripture sounds disgusting.
Today’s first reading (Tobit 2:9-14) must rank as one of the most disgusting-sounding passages in religious literature anywhere.
Bird droppings soaking into the eyes of a sleeping man... Eeeww! Yuck!
It is very easy to feel extremely sorry for the victim of this freak occurrence: to lose one’s sight in such a revoltingly nauseating manner!
Many of us feel sorry for victims of such unfortunate events – as well we should.
Many of us applaud the patience and courage displayed by those who are incapacitated in one way or another – as indeed such patience and courage should be applauded.
Yet today’s first reading also reminds us of the uncomfortable truth that human beings are not perfect: not even victims of unfortunate events nor people with long histories of virtuous deeds.
In fact, the protagonist of today’s reading is both a victim of a disgustingly unfortunate event (as we hear earlier in the reading) and a man with a long history of heroically virtuous deeds (as we heard in yesterday’s first reading) and yet he snaps at his hardworking wife and makes unjust accusations against her.
Tobit’s wife has a snappy, devastating comeback:
Where are your charitable deeds now?
Being a victim does not in itself confer virtue, nor does the exercise of virtue in itself ensure inerrancy.
We must do the best we can, yet no matter who are, what we have done or what has been done to us, we must never forget our absolute dependence upon the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to overcome difficulties, to be virtuous and even to be heroic.
(adapted from a previous post)