Tuesday, June 2, 2015

True Character

There is the saying that "Character is what we do when no one is looking." These days between being surrounding by cell phone with cameras and the NSA that saying may no linger have a place and we need to look for a new measure of character.

The first reading today from the Book of Tobit gives us just such a measure. Tobit suffers a stupid accident that leaves him blind. Because of the heat he decides one night to sleep out under a tree and gets bird poop in his eyes. The more the doctors of the time treat it, the worse it gets and he goes completely blind. He then becomes a man dependent on his wife to support them. One of her employers in charity gives her a goat on top of her salary. When she arrives home he accuses her of stealing it.

Her response is to his rage and accusations:

where are your charitable deeds now? Where are all your virtuous acts? You true character is finally showing itself.

It is easy for any of us to be kind charitable, and religious when all is going well. The real question is how do we respond in adversity? Do we blame God? Do we blame others? Do we become angry?

I have no doubt that Tobit found it humiliating to have his wife be the bread winner and to have to depend on her and others for help doing many things that prior to his blindness he could do for himself. Anna is correct our true character shows itself in those moments when it at least feels like it's all gone to pot. We find out not only who our real friends are but more importantly we can decide who we really are.