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Saturday, June 9, 2001

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St. Ephrem

Tobit 12:1, 5-15, 20
Tobit 13:2, 6
Mark 12:38-44

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an archangel on money

"Those who regularly give alms shall enjoy a full life." —Tobit 12:9

The Archangel Michael is well-known. Many pray the prayer to St. Michael. Moreover, most Catholics are well aware of the Archangel Gabriel's words at the Annunciation because we quote them in the prayer, the "Hail Mary." However, few people think of the Archangel Raphael, and fewer are aware of his words in the Bible.

After calling Tobit, Tobiah, and all of us to thank and praise God, Raphael teaches: "Prayer and fasting are good, but better than either is almsgiving accompanied by righteousness. A little with righteousness is better than abundance with wickedness. It is better to give alms than to store up gold; for almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin" (Tb 12:8-9). Jesus Himself proclaimed a similar message when He taught: "If you give what you have as alms, all will be wiped clean for you" (Lk 11:41).

Raphael and Jesus are not saying we can buy or work our way into heaven, but that we are called to express our faith in the Lord through giving alms. Raphael further maintains that almsgiving is better than prayer and fasting. This may come as a surprise to some. Then the archangel proclaims that almsgiving is better than having a savings account, stocks, bonds, insurance, pension, and other savings plans. This may come as a shock to many people. But we must take Raphael's words seriously and obediently, for the words of an angel are the words of God.

Prayer:  Father, make my life and finances angelic.

Promise:  "I want you to observe that this poor widow contributed more than all the others who donated to the treasury. They gave from their surplus wealth, but she gave from her want, all that she had to live on." —Mk 12:43-44

Praise:  Spending time alone with his Lord as a hermit, St. Ephrem was inspired to write hymns that were later incorporated into the liturgy.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, January 4, 2001

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, January 24, 2001