The readings today teach us about justice and compassion. These are two virtues that are very difficult to live by in this world, where success seems to be the only thing that matters.
The First Reading, Daniel 13:1-64, is about the beautiful wife of Joakim, Susanna, who was desired by two respected judges in the community. When Susanna rejected to lay with the judges, they made false accusations about her, claiming that she had an affair with a young man. The judges knew that their power and influence in the community would allow them to get away with this. Susanna knew that the easier way out of this would be to allow herself to be corrupted by both men. But her faith in the Lord was stronger than her fear of what would befall her for resisting the judges. She chose the harder way. She spoke of the evil done by the powerful judges and surrendered herself to the consequences of such action. God saved her from the persecution by sending Daniel who spoke the truth. It was through Daniel that the false testimonies of the judges were revealed and justice was brought forth. The First Reading teaches us to be like Susanna who stood by her conviction and preferred to “fall innocent into [men’s] power than to sin in the eyes of the Lord.” (Daniel 13:23) The First Reading also calls us to be like Daniel who called out the injustice committed on others.
The Gospel, John 8:1-11, is about an adulterer. Similar to Susanna, the woman in today’s Gospel was accused by scribes and Pharisees to have committed adultery. However, unlike Susanna who the First Reading described as innocent, the woman in the Gospel had no back story. The Gospel of John did not narrate whether this woman indeed committed adultery. I believe that the woman’s back story was irrelevant as the Gospel wanted to highlight Jesus’ merciful justice. To the accusations made against the woman, Jesus’ response was “'Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her.'” (John 8:7). Thus, while the First Reading teaches us to speak the truth, the Gospel reminds us to forgive. In this world rife with so much evil, hatred, and vengeance, this is a challenge. Indeed, today’s readings challenges us to strike a balance between standing by the truth and propagating justice, and showing compassion to those who have fallen astray.
In this world filled with selfishness, pride, and evil,
May You send the Holy Spirit to cleanse and guard our thoughts, our words, and our actions.
Allow us to speak the truth, no matter what the consequences be –
even if it may be the unpopular stand, even if it means going against society, or even if it means being condemned by others.
O Lord, help us build Your kingdom of justice on earth.
Fortify us with wisdom, strength, and courage
to protect the innocent and to walk a path of righteousness.
O Lord, empty out hearts of prejudice, hatred, and vengeance,
and fill it with Your compassionate justice, forgiving spirit, and unrelenting love.