Scripture: Lectionary 252: Daniel 13:1-9,15-17, 19-30, 33-62. Psalm
23:1-3,3-4,5.6. John 8:1-11
Our conscience and our knowledge of our faith help us to make good
decisions. The Scriptures are powerful in forming a correct conscience and
give us moral instruction that help us in our decision making and our
discernment of what is best for us and the common good. The selections
from Daniel and John are powerful examples of how to avoid temptations that
lead us to bad decisions and how not to judge another person or make
ourselves seem better than they are in their moral lives.
The first story is from one of our deutero-canonical works--there are seven
such books. It is a created story that shows us the goodness of a woman
from the tribe of Judah who is vindicated. The two old and odd wretches
are filled with lust for her and want to seduce her, but her screams save
her from their lascivious plot. They are scondrels of the first order and
"there is no fool or fools like old ones." A boy named Danel proves the
innocence of Susanna by showing that they were so filled with lust that
they could not identify the tree where they wished to seduce the woman.
Both suffer the consequences they had hoped to heap on the woman through
the clever test that Danel put them through. Notice that the name of the
lad is not exactly spelled as that of the prophet who lived in a different
imaginary era. His name means "the judgment of God" and the story brings
this out in the judgment the people put upon the two old villans. It is a
morality story that helps us realize the importance of resisting
temptations at the beginning and not trying to wiggle our way out of our
sins that we have committed when we are caught not by others but by God and
The Gospel is more real to life and probably was an event collected among
the sayings and doings in the oral tradtion behind the Gospels. The
pericope wound up in John's Gospel as an addition or an interpolation, but
it is more in the style of Luke. The point however is that we are to be
like Jesus in not condemning another person because of their failings or
sinfulness. Often we do judge people in our hearts and are just as often
dead wrong about them. Those who teach realize this more than others!
Mercy and compassion are shown the woman who was in an act of adultery.
Would Jesus have acted and spoken the same way if it were the man who was
caught? Yes. Jesus is compassion and has come to call sinners not the
just. Just as he sends the woman away to live a new life, we, too, are
often forgiven and have the chance to really do a turn about in the things
we should not be doing whether it be in thought, word, or deed. Grace
alone can help us to experience a metanoia or turn about in our mind and
heart. Our feeble efforts always keep us in the same patterns of sin with
the same temptations haunting the peace that we all long for. This Lent
offers us the opportunity to be open to Christ when he knocks on the door
of our heart wishing to come in and dine with us. Let us hurry up and dust
the table off and set the plates to dine with him. Amen.
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