We come towards the end of the book of Tobit which we have been reading all week. The ending will be that they all lived happily ever after. Tobit is cured of his blindness, Sarah is freed from her demon, Tobias finds a good wife, and Anna can relax because the family is now prosperous and secure. The archangel Raphael has been with them, guiding and healing them, seeing to it that this family of faithful people will be able to live happily into the future.
Since last week we have remembered many martyrs, Justin, Marcellinus and Peter, Charles Lwanga and his companions, Peter of Verona the first Dominican martyr, and Boniface, apostle of Germany, bishop and martyr. We remember them and celebrate them for their courage in remaining faithful even to the point of death. We celebrate them also because we share the same hope with them, the hope of living happily ever after in the kingdom of God. This hope enabled the martyrs to accept suffering and even death, confident that the Lord would bring them to his kingdom to be happy with him forever.
Today’s gospel reading is a bit puzzling. It is not clear why there was such delight among the people at the question Jesus puts to his opponents. Maybe it is that he has begun to fight back and they are pleased at this. We have seen a whole range of groups and individuals approaching him to ask questions, questions designed to corner him and embarrass him. Now he asks a question of his own, one not easy to understand and so not easy to answer. Maybe the people are delighted that he has done this, that he has put his opponents on the back foot for a change.
It could be for other reasons that they are delighted. The question of Jesus contains a prediction of his Ascension to the right hand of the Father. The psalm he quotes, Psalm 110, is used by the Church to illustrate his Ascension. When his work on earth was complete, the Incarnate Word returned to the Father to take his place at the Father’s right hand, to reign forever in glory. He is to be there happily ever after and perhaps the people are delighted because they sense something of this in what he is saying.
In his divine nature he is always the Eternal Son of the Heavenly Father and so is always with God in the kingdom of heaven. In his human nature he stepped down from that place of glory, to take on the tasks of salvation and redemption, but now that his victory has been won he returns there, where the glory that is his as the Only Son from the Father and the glory that is his as the Leader and Guide of all people are now one in an eternal joy which all are called to share.
To live happily ever after … it is the lot of Tobit and his family in this life, just as it is what the martyrs hope for in eternity. Jesus’ question, showing that the Messiah was there before David spoke of him, shows that there is an eternal happiness shared between Father and Son, a happiness ever before, which is opened up for humanity through the work of the Son. We pray that this gift may be ours now and in the end when, delighted, we will possess this happiness securely and live in it ever after.