|Sarah, the wife of Tobias - Aug 19|
|RUTH - 2012|
|Sunday, 19 August 2012 00:00|
By Nicole Luke
“Sarah” means “Chieftainess or Princess”. Sarah was an only child; she was sensible, courageous, compassionate and beautiful. Her sorrow was to have been falsely accused of the murder of her seven husbands each of whom died on his wedding night. Her joy was that she lived happily with her eighth husband who delivered her from an evil spirit.
The world is full of love stories but few are as magical and strange as the story of Sarah and Tobias. They met, fell in love and married through the help of an angel in disguise. Sarah was the only child of devout Jewish family and was widowed seven times before consummating the marriage. Her maid was so shocked at the many deaths of Sarah’s husbands that she openly accused Sarah of strangling her husbands to death. This wounded Sarah deeply and she even contemplated suicide, however she reconsidered thinking of how her father would be brought into reproach by her actions and prayed to God to take her life instead.
Tobias was a relative of Sarah’s father Raguel. He and his family had been exiled in Nineveh. His father Tobit was a righteous man who, though having lost his wealth and become blind, never once reproached God for his affliction. Tobit in his distress had also asked God to take his life; then called Tobias and instructed him to go to Rhages in Media to collect money that he had deposited there so that he could have a proper burial, and his family would have enough to live on. He instructed Tobias on how to live as a righteous man and to have reverence for God. He further instructed him on choosing the right mate: “Marry a woman from among the descendants of your ancestors; for we are the descendants of the prophets” (Tobit 4:12).
Tobias was obedient to his father’s wishes and set out to find a guide to take him to Media. There he found a man called Azariah, he took him to meet Tobit and they set out for Media with his parent’s blessing (Tobit 4: 4-16).
While on his journey, Tobias was attacked by a large fish that he killed at the instigation of his guide. He kept the liver, the heart and the gall of the fish at the advice of Azariah who explained its healing properties. When they got to Media Azariah insisted they stayed with Tobias’ relative Raguel and advised Tobias to take Sarah’s hand in marriage. Tobias was reluctant since he had already heard that she had taken several husbands all of whom were killed by a demon. So he was not willing to try his luck. However, Azariah reminded Tobias that his father wanted him to marry his kin, and told him how to overcome the demon.
After speaking to Azariah, Tobias was so convinced that even before he met her, he had already fallen in love with Sarah. They asked Sara’s parents for her hand in marriage. They were at first very reluctant to accept since they believed that Tobias would also be killed, but eventually they too made an act of faith and gave their consent.
On the wedding night Tobias used the liver and heart from the fish he had caught and incense to repel the wicked demon. Sarah and Tobias followed the advice of Azariah and prayed together before coming together to consummate their marriage. The next morning he woke up happily married to this extremely beautiful, courageous, God-fearing woman. Sarah had finally found her husband.
The story does not end there. Tobias returned home with his new bride, anointed the eyes of his father with the gall of the fish and his father's sight was restored.
In thanksgiving for the help he had received from his companion Tobias tried to repay this stranger with money. The stranger then revealed his identity: “I am Raphael one of the seven angels who stand before the throne of God". He then explained to them that their afflictions were permitted by God in order to try them; "I was sent here to test you”. At hearing this they were filled with fear and admiration and remained prostrate on their faces giving glory to God. The angel Raphael told Tobit to write down all that had happened to him and then he disappeared from their presence.
Lessons about marriage
What a beautiful story! I have come to love God in such an amazing way through this story and thank him every day for the blessings he has given and continues to give my family and me.
I now understand why St Raphael bears the title of "Patron of Travellers" and "help of the sick". I believe that he should also be given the title "Patron of those seeking matrimony".
What lessons can we learn from this story? For some it is a faith testimony, for others it is a lesson of how obedience and trust in God has its rewards. In reading the Book of Tobit in preparation for this article I realised that an important lesson here is the true meaning of the Sacrament of Marriage according to the mind of God. Tobias was chosen by God as Sarah’s partner – “Don’t be afraid, for she was set apart for you before the world was made”. This reminded me of a quote I read some time ago “Someday, someone will walk into your life and make you realize why it never worked out with anyone else” - Unknown.
Raphael gave Tobias the right outlook and attitude towards the Sacrament of Marriage; two shall become one, the importance of prayer within the marriage, the sanctity of the marriage bed and procreation. Raphael as God’s angel knew what God wanted marriage to be; marriage is not about fulfilling worldly pleasures and desires, but is a holy union between a man and woman destined to raise saints to God. Tobias in his prayer said “I now am taking this kinswoman of mine, not because of lust, but with sincerity. Grant that I may find mercy and that we may grow old together.” Those who base their marriage on just physical attraction of the spouse and worldly possessions deceive themselves since these are all temporal and are not life-giving. God truly does desire that we make the right decision and he does care about with whom and how we spend our earthly life. Sarah prayed to God after the death of all her previous husbands saying “either I was unworthy of them, or they perhaps were not worthy of me: because perhaps you have kept me for another man” (Tobias 3:16). God did have something else in mind for her, but she would not have received God’s help if she had not first been a devoted servant.
We must also seek to put God first in all that we do so that in return He will neither allow us to be deceived or to deceive ourselves, which sadly is what happens in most cases today. God’s work is never by mere chance. He will guide you by his providence to the person you should marry; ask for His guidance so that you will not be deceived in choosing. It is by prayer that we will be led to make the right decision and it is by prayer that you will get the graces you need to raise a family and to keep and sanctify that family. As the saying goes, "A family that prays together stays together," I would like to encourage you to pray the Holy Rosary with your family. There are great number of graces won for your family each time you pray the Holy Rosary together.
Sarah had been so crushed by her circumstances that she prayed for death, but God answered her with mercy instead and delivered her from a time of sorrow and blessed her with long life and a husband to love. Like Sarah, have faith that God knows best.
Father, deliver us from evil and show us your mercy. Open our eyes to your power and love so that we are not blinded by the difficulties we face right now. Even though we can’t see You, We believe: help, then our unbelief. Amen.