READINGS for 2008-03-10
LiTTLE SiN, LONg gUiLT
“I do not condemn you either. Go, but do not sin again.” – John 8:11
Gina (not her real name) is my college schoolmate who suffered polio. That’s why one of her legs is smaller than the other. The disability didn’t seem to bother her as she actively joined student organizations, including one I belonged to.
One day, Gina and I had an argument about one of our projects. It was really petty, but after the incident, I felt so guilty about arguing with Gina. I thought that whether she was right or wrong, I should have been more kind and patient with her. I confessed this sin but — would you believe — I carried the guilt for quite a long time.
Years later, I suffered a skin allergy on my feet. Crazy, but I was actually glad I had the allergy because I considered it as my payment for my sin against Gina.
The Gospel today reminds me of the times I condemn myself for sins I’ve longed confessed but still dwell on, continuing to pay for them the best I could. But just as Jesus did not condemn the woman committing adultery, neither does our Lord condemn us of our sins — big or small.
Today, I try not to sin. But when I do, I repent, confess it and then move on, basking on my Lord’s unconditional love for me. Cynthia Santiago
We are not perfect. Just forgiven.
Lord, take me and make me whole, worthy of Your great love for me.
Daniel knows that the elders’ judgment is wrong and so he stands up before them to challenge them. Such an action is unheard of during Daniel’s time and he invites punishment as he could be construed as being disrespectful towards them. For Daniel, the truth is at stake and is worth risking his life and well-being for. We live in a world that always denies the truth as it seeks to give justification to a whole range of sins and immorality.
Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 (or Daniel 13: 41c-62 or Susana)
1 [Dan 13:1] In Babylon there lived a man named Joakim, 2 [Dan 13:2] who married a very beautiful and God-fearing woman, Susanna, the daughter of Hilkiah; 3 [Dan 13:3] her pious parents had trained their daughter according to the law of Moses. 4 [Dan 13:4] Joakim was very rich; he had a garden near his house, and the Jews had recourse to him often because he was the mostrespected of them all. 5 [Dan 13:5] That year, two elders of the people were appointed judges, of whom the Lord said, Wickedness has come out of Babylon: from the elders who were to govern the people as judges.” 6 [Dan 13:6] These men, to whom all brought their cases, frequented the house of Joakim. 7 [Dan 13:7] When the people left at noon, Susanna used to enter her husband’s garden for a walk. 8 [Dan 13:8] When the old men saw her enter every day for her walk, they began to lust for her. 9 [Dan 13:9] They suppressed their consciences; they would not allow their eyes to look to heaven, and did not keep in mind just judgments. 15 [Dan 13:15] One day, while they were waiting for the right moment, she entered the garden as usual, with two maids only. She decided to bathe, for the weather was warm. 16 [Dan 13:16] Nobody else was there except the two elders, who had hidden themselves and were watching her. 17 [Dan 13:17] “Bring me oil and soap,” she said to the maids, “and shut the garden doors while I bathe.” 19 [Dan 13:19] As soon as the maids had left, the two old men got up and hurried to her. 20 [Dan 13:20] “Look,” they said, “the garden doors are shut, and no one can see us; give in to our desire, and lie with us. 21 [Dan 13:21] If you refuse, we will testify against you that you dismissed your maids because a young man was here with you.” 22 [Dan 13:22] “I am completely trapped,” Susanna groaned. “If I yield, it will be my death; if I refuse, I cannot escape your power. 23 [Dan 13:23] Yet it is better for me to fall into your power without guilt than to sin before the Lord.” 24 [Dan 13:24] Then Susanna shrieked, and the old men also shouted at her, 25 [Dan 13:25] as one of them ran to open the garden doors. 26 [Dan 13:26] When the people in the house heard the cries from the garden, they rushed in by the side gate to see what had happened to her. 27 [Dan 13:27] At the accusations by the old men, the servants felt very much ashamed, for never had any such thing been said about Susanna. 28 [Dan 13:28] When the people came to her husband Joakim the next day, the two wicked elders also came, fully determined to put Susanna to death. Before all the people they ordered: 29 [Dan 13:29] “Send for Susanna, the daughter of Hilkiah, the wife of Joakim.” When she was sent for, 30 [Dan 13:30] she came with her parents, children and all her relatives. 33 [Dan 13:33] All her relatives and the onlookers were weeping. 34 [Dan 13:34] In the midst of the people the two elders rose up and laid their hands on her head. 35 [Dan 13:35] Through her tears she looked up to heaven, for she trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly. 36 [Dan 13:36] The elders made this accusation: “As we were walking in the garden alone, this woman entered with two girls and shut the doors of the garden, dismissing the girls. 37 [Dan 13:37] A young man, who was hidden there, came and lay with her. 38 [Dan 13:38] When we, in a corner of the garden, saw this crime, we ran toward them. 39 [Dan 13:39] We saw them lying together, but the man we could not hold, because he was stronger than we; he opened the doors and ran off. 40 [Dan 13:40] Then we seized this one and asked who the young man was, 41 [Dan 13:41] but she refused to tell us. We testify to this.” The assembly believed them, since they were elders and judges of the people, and they condemned her to death. 42 [Dan 13:42] But Susanna cried aloud: “O eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be: 43 [Dan 13:43] you know that they have testified falsely against me. Here I am about to die, though I have done none of the things with which these wicked men have charged me.” 44 [Dan 13:44] The Lord heard her prayer. 45 [Dan 13:45] As she was being led to execution, God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel, 46 [Dan 13:46] and he cried aloud: “I will have no part in the death of this woman.” 47 [Dan 13:47] All the people turned and asked him, “What is this you are saying?” 48 [Dan 13:48] He stood in their midst and continued, “Are you such fools, O Israelites! To condemn a woman of Israel without examination and without clear evidence? 49 [Dan 13:49] Return to court, for they have testified falsely against her.” 50 [Dan 13:50] Then all the people returned in haste. To Daniel the elders said, “Come, sit with us and inform us, since God has given you the prestige of old age.” 51 [Dan 13:51] But he replied, “Separate these two far from one another that I may examine them.” 52 [Dan 13:52] After they were separated one from the other, he called one of them and said: “How you have grown evil with age! Now have your past sins come to term: 53 [Dan 13:53] passing unjust sentences, condemning the innocent, and freeing the guilty, although the Lord says, ‘The innocent and the just you shall not put to death.’ 54 [Dan 13:54] Now, then, if you were a witness, tell me under what tree you saw them together.” 55 [Dan 13:55] “Under a mastic tree,” he answered. “Your fine lie has cost you your head,” said Daniel; “for the angel of God shall receive the sentence from him and split you in two.” 56 [Dan 13:56] Putting him to one side, he ordered the other one to be brought. “Offspring of Canaan, not of Judah,” Daniel said to him, “beauty has seduced you, lust has subverted your conscience. 57 [Dan 13:57] This is how you acted with the daughters of Israel, and in their fear they yielded to you; but a daughter of Judah did not tolerate your wickedness. 58 [Dan 13:58] Now, then, tell me under what tree you surprised them together.” 59 [Dan 13:59] “Under an oak,” he said. “Your fine lie has cost you also your head,” said Daniel; “for the angel of God waits with a sword to cut you in two so as to make an end of you both.” 60 [Dan 13:60] The whole assembly cried aloud, blessing God who saves those that hope in him. 61 [Dan 13:61] They rose up against the two elders, for by their own words Daniel had convicted them of perjury. According to the law of Moses, they inflicted on them the penalty they had plotted to impose on their neighbor: 62 [Dan 13:62] they put them to death. Thus was innocent blood spared that day.
P S A L M
Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
R: Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; 3 he refreshes my soul. (R) He guides me in right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage. (R) 5 You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (R) 6 Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come. (R)
G O S P E L
Jesus speaks the truth to the woman caught in adultery. He does not spare her the need to face her sinfulness but He does challenge her accusers to look at their own sinfulness before they enter into righteous judgment of her sins. I believe one of the most important aspects of this story relates to Jesus’ parting words to the woman, “Go away and sin no more.” Here we find the truth of repentance and holiness, the willingness to fight the power of sin before it takes hold of our life again.
1 Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. 4 They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5 Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. 7 But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. 10 Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
think:Daniel was willing to risk his life for the truth. How about you?
God’s special verse/thought for me today________________
T O D A Y ’ S BLESSING LIST
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Revelations: 19-22
true repentanCe and Conversion
Living a holy life is hard work. It is not something that comes easily to anyone. We need to ask ourselves — are we prepared for what a life of righteousness will require of us? If we are not ready to commit to the life of discipleship, then maybe we should wait before saying that we are ready to begin. The woman caught in adultery in today’s Gospel receives a truly remarkable grace in the forgiveness of her sins – but it does not come without some sort of challenge. Jesus is very clear about her responsibility – “go away and sin no more!” This is not something to take lightly. The same should be true of our intention every time we avail the Sacrament of Reconciliation. True conversion and repentance require our commitment to do away with all the sin in our lives. This means that when we ask God’s forgiveness, we do so with the firm resolve to avoid all of those sins in the future. If we are not committed to this end, then what integrity is there to our repentance? There is none, or at least, very little. The call to live a life without sin is not an easy one. It must be possible to avoid all mortal sin (some say Therese of Lisieux managed to avoid all mortal sin). Surely the grace of God is strong enough if we surrender to it to help us avoid falling into temptation and sin?
Even if we do sin we know we can repent. This is a fantastic gift to us that comes from the depth of God’s heart. There is no doubt in my mind that God’s desire is to give us the grace to do away with sin forever. However, it seems that we are too easily and too often seduced by sin and drawn into its ugly presence. We need to pray for the grace to be drawn towards all that is good and noble, holy and perfect, rather than allow ourselves to be fooled into giving ourselves away to the lies of the devil. Let us now try to put these principles into action. Fr. Steve Tynan
What is the sin that I struggle with the most? What am I doing to try and overcome it? Do I really think that this will be enough to defeat it?
Holy Spirit, I am relying upon You to convince me of the sin in my life, and for the grace to repent of it as I struggle to grow in holiness every day. Help me to surrender everything I am to God.
St. Macarius of Jerusalem, bishop, pray for us.
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