I attended the noon Mass at the Cathedral and the first reading seemed so appropriate:
Tb 1:3; 2:1a-8
I, Tobit, have walked all the days of my life
on the paths of truth and righteousness.
I performed many charitable works for my kinsmen and my people
who had been deported with me to Nineveh, in Assyria.
On our festival of Pentecost, the feast of Weeks,
a fine dinner was prepared for me, and I reclined to eat.
The table was set for me,
and when many different dishes were placed before me,
I said to my son Tobiah: “My son,
go out and try to find a poor man
from among our kinsmen exiled here in Nineveh.
If he is a sincere worshiper of God, bring him back with you,
so that he can share this meal with me.
Indeed, son, I shall wait for you to come back.”
Tobiah went out to look for some poor kinsman of ours.
When he returned he exclaimed, “Father!”
I said to him, “What is it, son?”
He answered, “Father, one of our people has been murdered!
His body lies in the market place where he was just strangled!”
I sprang to my feet, leaving the dinner untouched;
and I carried the dead man from the street
and put him in one of the rooms,
so that I might bury him after sunset.
Returning to my own quarters, I washed myself
and ate my food in sorrow.
I was reminded of the oracle
pronounced by the prophet Amos against Bethel:
“All your festivals shall be turned into mourning,
and all your songs into lamentation.”
And I wept.
Then at sunset I went out, dug a grave, and buried him.
The neighbors mocked me, saying to one another:
“He is still not afraid!
Once before he was hunted down for execution
because of this very thing;
yet now that he has scarcely escaped,
here he is again burying the dead!”
While I am sure Biblical scholars more skilled than I will tell the actual meaning of this passage, I want to reflect on it in this light. May the Christians of Iraq follow the example of Tobit and continue in their faith despite the repercussions they may face.
Sandro Magister has a great post on the plight of Iraqi Christians. Read it here.