A Cuppa with Sarah

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Illustration by Br. Martin Erspamer, OSB, a monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, Indiana. Used with permission.

Since I’m always intrigued by the women’s stories hidden in Scripture, I imagine a conversation over tea with Sarah, the woman whose seven husbands all died on their wedding nights.  

Today’s excerpt from Tobit covers Sarah’s story only as told by her father, so I’d ask how she felt, blamed for seven deaths: Devastated? Hopeless? As chapter 3 fleshes out the narrative, Sarah was suicidal. But intriguingly, she could still pray. With hands outstretched to the window, she reminded God she was an innocent victim, her parents’ only child, disgraced (3:11-15).  

Sarah might explain as we sipped tea that she’d been anchored in a loving home. In her mother’s tears, Sarah glimpsed God’s tenderness. And when Tobiah asked to marry Sarah despite the past, her father blessed them graciously: “from now on you are her love, and she is your beloved” (see 7:11-12). Such human kindness is a golden thread running through her story, which sounds to me like a folktale. When Tobiah arrives, accompanied by the angel Raphael in disguise, a dog comes too—adding to the earthiness (Tobit 6:2).  

I’d listen as Sarah recalled the mixture of fear and hope she first felt for Tobiah, which the couple bundled into prayer. “We knew that despite oppressive grief, we were never separated from God. The trauma was terrible, but not who we deeply were. So we praised God, called on divine mercy, and asked for happy old age.” From Sarah’s tragic experience, I learn that nothing happens without divine guidance, protection, and care. Her family seemed ordinary, no paragons of virtue. Nonetheless she knew: the Reign of God enters every family inch by inch; we all play parts in a larger drama.  

© Liturgical Press.

Kathy Coffey  

Kathy Coffey is a mother of four, a speaker and retreat leader. An award-winning writer, she is author of When the Saints Came Marching In and More Hidden Women of the Gospels. For more information, see her website: kathyjcoffey.com 

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