your practical act of faith
"It is better to give alms than to store up gold; for almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin." —Tobit 12:8-9
The archangel Raphael told Tobit and Tobiah that "almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin." This seems to be a strange teaching, for we believe that sin is expiated by Jesus' saving death and that we accept this expiation by our faith in Him. However, Jesus showed He accepted the reception of expiation through almsgiving when He said to the Pharisees: "If you give what you have as alms, all will be wiped clean for you" (Lk 11:41).
For Tobit and the Pharisees, almsgiving was not to be done in place of faith, but as an act of faith. The Pharisees "were avaricious men" (Lk 16:14). They laughed at Jesus when He taught we should be very generous in giving our money to the needy (Lk 16:14). For the Pharisees to give alms extensively, and in the right spirit, would take a great act of faith.
Tobit, while not as avaricious as the Pharisees, was also money-conscious. Before going blind, he had been a purchasing agent for the government (Tb 1:13). He was depressed because he had to depend on his wife's salary for his livelihood (see Tb 2:10-11), and he had a large "savings account" in Media (see Tb 4:1). For people like Tobit and the Pharisees, giving alms was a great act of faith by which they could receive expiation for all their sins. What is a great, practical act of faith for you?
Prayer: Father, give me the faith of the poor widow in today's Gospel reading.
Promise: "She gave from her want, all that she had to live on." —Mk 12:44
Praise: St. Norbert brought many back to faith in Jesus present as the Blessed Sacrament.
Reference: (For related teaching, order our booklet, The Bible on Money.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 18, 2014
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