In today’s first reading, Susanna, who is married to Joakim, is described very early in the reading as a “God-fearing woman.” As I continued to read I understood her to be a woman who did not literally “fear God” but very clearly “loved and trusted in God.” The judges in this reading are described as leaders who allowed earthly temptations to over power them rather than looking to God for wisdom and strength. I see Satan tempting the judges in the reading, just as Satan continues to tempt people today.
Susanna, who is wise, understands the plot as the judges try to lay a trap. Susanna in her faithfulness to God and to her husband refuses to fall into their trap and sends a cry for help. When she is confronted again, by the judges, in a court of law, Susanna continues to “ trust in the Lord wholeheartedly” even though she was wrongly condemned to death. Susanna continues to trust by praying to the Lord, “You know that they have testified falsely against me.” Susanna, like many of us have to believe that the Lord will continue to be with us in our life’s challenges, we are shown how we must trust and live our lives in the way that God expects us to live. We are shown that if we do all in our power to be true to ourselves, true to our neighbor and to our God, our loving God will help us to over come and grow from our challenges and struggles.
The reading continues to show us how other people come into our lives to make a difference. “God stirred up the Holy Spirit of a young boy named Daniel.” I ask myself why anyone would listen to a young boy? Daniel must have been very strong and forth coming in his objection and was not afraid to speak up and “ask the question”.
Many of us may be in situations that concern us in terms of how people are treated, cared for, or accepted by others. We are called to be like Daniel, and not fear speaking up or object to the status quo when leadership is not looking for ways to enhance the lives of those they touch, or when leadership uses fear to avoid challenges from the people they are to lead. We are also reminded, in this first reading that not only should we voice our objections to mistreatment, unwise decisions, or abuse of power but to voice those objections following and with a prayerful relationship with our Lord.
The Psalm today is one we are all familiar with. As I read it again today I wonder how God is attempting to lead me? “Beside restful waters He leads me.” I feel that when I try to work through my challenges and my struggles without asking God to walk with me I experience tidal waves but in those times that I go to God with complete trust my struggles seem to be calm/ restful waters. “ He guides me in right paths”, the doors or windows are open but we have to be willing to walk or climb through them. “With your rod and staff”, as my support from You, loving God I “fear no evil.’ As chosen people we can expect goodness and kindness if we continue to live our lives sharing our gifts with others.
The Gospel today is one of my favorites “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” This Good News, this new way of living, again shows me the magnitude, the importance of having had Jesus, the Son of God live among us. Jesus teaches all of us how to love others to make effective and positive changes in our lives and in the lives of others. Jesus teaches us and the people of his time an entirely new way to live.
Jesus raises the bar on humanity- it’s not just about right or wrong it is about loving others and ourselves with our human imperfections. Jesus has no need “to take the Pharisees on” because He is with them/us to enlighten humanity about God’s expectations to love our neighbor as ourselves and to forgive others by extending ourselves to others.
Several years ago I listened to a Homily about this reading but one fact escapes my mind and so I conclude this reflection with a question to you: “ What was Jesus writing on the ground?” May God continue to bless all of us as we continue to experience this reflective season of Lent.
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