Thursday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
(Tobit 6:10-11.7:1bcde.9-17.8:4-9a; Mark 12:28-34)
Dr. George Vaillant is a psychiatrist who has taken up a longitudinal study of Harvard graduates in the early 1940s. One purpose of the study is to answer the age-old question of what makes people happy. Dr. Vaillant believes that happiness has much to do with how people cope with setbacks. If after a difficult experience a person suspects everyone as wanting to do him or her in, happiness is probably going to be elusive no matter how much money the person has or how healthy he or she is. On the other hand, if the person faces setbacks by becoming more compassionate to others, then she or he is likely on the road to happiness.
How might we judge Tobiah’s and Sarah’s responses to their difficulties? In yesterday’s reading we heard how Sarah chose to act on behalf of her father when faced with the ignominy of having seven husbands die before consummating their marriage. We might say that she opted for altruism over passive aggression. Tobiah is challenged in today’s reading. When told of his cousin Sarah’s terrible experiences of marriage, he might have ignored his father Tobit’s advice to marry a kinswoman by feigning illness. But he sublimates his fears by praying to God for deliverance. We should not be surprised on Saturday when we hear how all turns out well for this family.