One of the most charming and instructive Wisdom stories in the Old Testament can be found in the Book of Tobit, which is couched in between the Books of Nehemiah and Judith.
Only fourteen short and easy reading chapters, the book of Tobit serves as an invaluable literary tool to teach, inspire, encourage, correct, motivate and fill the reader with hope.
In the midst of so much turmoil in our world, especially with regard to the primary cell of society—the family, the Book of Tobit offers us invaluable lessons.
The key or linchpin that serves to purify, ennoble and save two families experiencing very serious problems is the intervention of a person whose name is Raphael.
In fact Raphael is an angelic person, whose name can be interpreted as God heals or Medicine of God. You might even title Raphael as the Angelic Physician.
Two Monumental Problems: The Intervention Of Raphael. All families have problems; this is part of the common lot of humanity. However, there are different ways to react towards problems. We can react by giving into despair, or we can entrust our problems to God and rely on God’s overlying strength.
First Problem: Tobit’s affliction with blindness. A very good man, Tobit left his meal to attend to those who were afflicted and dying. After affording the dead proper burial and exhausted, Tobit falls asleep with his eyes open and birds let their droppings fall into his eyes. Despite the good will and efforts of Doctors, the poor Tobit’s eyes go from bad to worse and he ends up totally blind. The loss of his sight causes Tobit unspeakable pain and anguish. He even ends up having a heated quarrel with his wife, adding greater suffering to his affliction.
Second Problem: Sarah’s afflictions. In another family, the young Sarah undergoes untold sorrow and anguish. Believing that her vocational call is that of marriage, six of her prospect husbands are struck down the very moment when they are about to consummate the marriage; all are killed by the devil Asmodeus. Led almost to the brink of despair, Sarah decides it is better for her to simply terminate her life. However, the thought of the grief and humiliation that her suicide would bring upon her parents detains her from hanging from the noose!
In these critical moments, prayers ascend on high to the Almighty and merciful God, and He sends relief to these two families in an extraordinary manner. God sends from Heaven the Archangel Raphael to heal the wounds and reconcile the families, establishing peace and harmony among the human family.
Many of the activities on earth are governed and directed by God through the instrumentality of His angels. Our essay will focus largely upon the different areas of intervention and blessing the Archangel Raphael portrays in the Book of Tobit; furthermore, on how he can still intervene in our lives and be of great service to all of us in our struggle against evil and our pursuit of holiness of life.
The Archangel Raphael, Medicine of God, intervenes in human affairs sent by Almighty God to render inexplicable graces and services. All is done in such a humble and inconspicuous way by the silent Hand of God that one is astounded by God’s ways of weaving, working and healing.
Let us go down through a list of ways that Raphael came to the aid of these two families, and how he can help each and every one of us in our own family struggles.
1. RAPHAEL—GOD HEALS/ MEDICINE OF GOD. Raphael was instrumental in the healing of the blind Tobit through the application on his eyes of the gall of a fish. His sight restored so that Tobit could see his son Tobias and wife Sarah, his joy had no limits. Let us beg the Archangel Raphael to heal the many wounds that have afflicted our families. Our families have many wounds but God can heal the wounds by the Wounds of His Son Jesus, but also through the intervention of the Archangel Raphael—God Heals!
2. PATRON OF TRAVELERS. The young Tobias needed directions to arrive at the home of his future wife, Sarah. There was no Thomas Guide or GPS back then! The Angelic Map and Guide arrives in person and volunteers his services to direct Tobias safely and soundly to his destiny and vocation. Today our families are assaulted by so many negative forces, many bad turns, many erroneous detours, many potholes and pitfalls. How easy it is to get lost on the highway that leads to eternal life. Let us place our families under the protective wings of the Archangel Raphael and he will lead us to our safe haven which is Heaven.
3. PATRON OF HAPPY MEETINGS. Upon arriving at the home of his future family, his future wife and in-laws, there indeed is a happy meeting. Tobias rejoices in meeting his future father-in-law and mother-in-law, and even more so in meeting his future wife Sarah. Their joy radiates. This being the case, families have frequent meetings and at times they can be very tense to say the least. So as to dispel the tension and possible quarrels and discords, families should invite the Archangel Raphael to be present in their family meetings so they will end by being a HAPPY MEETING. Raphael can expel the bad feelings and arrange it such that family members learn to love and respect each other mutually.
4. RIGHT VOCATIONAL CHOICE. Beyond doubt, one of the most important, if not the most important choice in our lives is the choice of our vocation. Single life, married life, religious life, the priesthood—all are possible vocational possibilities. The Archangel Raphael can be instrumental in helping us to simply make the right choice.
5. MARRIAGE VOCATION. Arriving at one of the key themes in the Book of Tobit is the encounter, the love, and the marriage choice that is made by both Sarah and Tobias. Indeed their marriage was not based on lust, sensuality, vanity, materialism, nor pride. They chose to marry for the love of God and so that they could honestly and purely raise a family pleasing in the eyes of God. May we pray most especially for our children so that they will pray fervently for their vocation! And if indeed their vocation is that of the Married life that a proper choice of the person will be made according to the will of God and the intercession of the Archangel Raphael.
6. MARITAL PURITY: “BLESSED ARE THE PURE OF HEART; THEY WILL SEE GOD” (Mt. 5:8). One of the primary reasons Sarah’s prospective husbands were slain on the marriage night was because they sought out Sarah for ignoble purposes—that is to say, they were dominated and blinded by the devil of lust. (Asmodeus!) Both Tobias and Sarah had a true, authentic, noble and pure relationship with each other. Let us pray that couples today will marry more for love and chastity than by being dominated and enslaved by the devil of lust.
7. PATRON OF JOY! The Archangel Raphael ends up by transforming two families from a dismal, sad and even despairing atmosphere to an overflowing joy. Families should be an oasis of peace, harmony, and a reservoir of immense and overflowing joy. Sin causes sadness; virtue and the presence of God create joy!
8. PATRON OF EYESIGHT. Tobias marries Sarah and undertakes the journey home so as to present his new wife to his parents. The elderly Tobit still is suffering great pain due to his blindness. The Archangel Raphael commands that Tobias apply the gall of a fish to the blind eyes of his father, Tobit. Almost immediately crusts like scales fall from the eyes of the elderly father Tobit. Now he can see with his own eyes the face of his son and his beautiful new bride Sarah. Let us pray to the Archangel Raphael that we will have great purity in the use of our eyes. May the Archangel help us and protect us with his wings so that we will avoid viewing impure material that will sully our eyes, blemish our hearts, and damage our love for our spouse and family!
9. PATRON OF PRAYER AND PATRON OF PRAISE OF GOD. At the end of the story, the Archangel Raphael reveals his identity as an angel sent by God. He invites all to thank God and praise God; the Archangel attributes all the good to God and not to himself. May the Archangel Raphael be welcomed into our own family life and may his presence motivate all of us to pray to God, to praise God, and to place God in the very center of our lives.
10. HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN. The Archangel Raphael came from Heaven to visit the earth so as to become an angelic bridge to cross from earth to Heaven. His visit to these two troubled families was relatively short in comparison to eternity. His presence, prayers, power, potency and pleasant performance in these two troubled families served to bring them closer to their eternal destiny—that is Heaven! Let us invite the Archangel Raphael into our own family lives so that his wings will protect us and that he will help families to lift their eyes more and more towards Heaven.
The family is indeed the Domestic Church, the basic cell of society, the basic building block of human society. Many are the dangerous, poisonous, and nefarious enemies that are attacking society by trying to destroy the family.
Therefore, let us invite into our families the many angelic friends that God has at our disposition. But most especially let us get to know the Archangel Raphael by reading the Book of Tobit. May this great Archangel Raphael not be a simple ornamental presence, but rather a powerful presence in motivating us to form solid, strong and robust families for the betterment of town, city, country, and the entire world!
May Our Lady Queen of all of the Angels and saints pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen. The future of the world depends upon the holiness of families!