All three of the readings for mass today are very powerful.  In the first reading, a young boy Daniel defended an innocent woman against those who accused her of adultery and had her sentenced to death.  In the gospel today, Jesus defended a woman who was guilty of adultery and was also sentenced to death.  They are both very powerful stories and each story is beautiful in their own way.  One woman was falsely accused and sentenced to die, but placed her life in God’s hands and trusted Him. The other woman was justly accused and was sentenced to die. She did not have any hope because it was the law that she was to die for her sin.

Jesus Christ did not come for the righteous, but sinners though. Christ’s compassion for the adulteress surpassed all of the rules of the past.  (Mt 9:13 / Mk 2:17 / Lk 5:32)

We can also understand Suzanna’s innocence in the first reading from the book of Daniel.  She was innocent of the charges against her and was unjustly sentenced to death.  All she had left was her faith in God, which she clung to as she was being led to her execution.  Can you imagine that walk?

While Suzanna was walking toward her execution, it must have felt a lot like Psalm 23 in our readings for mass today.  “Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.”  And, this was true.  God was literally by her side.  Many people do not realize that the Holy Spirit existed and was active in the old testament too.  Today’s reading shows that He was definitely present and walking beside Suzanna, because the young boy Daniel felt the Holy Spirit’s presence so strongly, that he spontaneously stopped everyone and said that he would have no part in Suzanna’s death.  How could he know that Suzanna was innocent?  How did Daniel come up with the wisdom to pry the truth out of her accusers?  As a young boy, he could not have possessed this wisdom on his own.  The Holy Spirit inspired him to speak the truth, and then guided him on what to do to prove the truth.  All of this was unexpectedly accomplished while Suzanna was being led to her execution.

Actually, the same thing happened with the adulteress who was being led to her execution as well, except Jesus went over the top in his compassion for her.  Who would have expected this either?  This woman clearly committed adultery and deserved to be put to death according to their laws at the time.

Jesus-AdulterousWoman

Did you notice how Jesus wrote in the sand and seemed to ignore the scribes and Pharisees even while they continued questioning him?  This is a good thing for us to pay attention to.  Tempers were flaring, emotions were high, and demands were being made. The accusations flung toward the adulteress were dominated by self-righteousness, even if the woman caught in adultery was guilty of the crime.

Sometimes the punishment can be worse than the crime.  Even justifiable consequences can mushroom out of control and end up doing more harm than good sometimes.  This is something young parents should really pay close attention to.   Children have to be corrected when they do things that are wrong, but it is very easy to allow your emotions to get out of hand.  In one split second you can say or do something that your child will remember the rest of their life, if you allow your temper to get the best of you.  A small word of praise sticks with them forever, but so does the actions and words that we say in anger.  Elderly people often go to their grave never forgetting the hurtful words their parents said to them when they were little children, even if they did forgive them for it.  None of us want to be remembered for our worst moments.

Jesus diffused the whole situation in today’s gospel by doing nothing until everyone’s emotions calmed down.  Slowly writing in the sand may have distracted everyone from the problem at hand, and given them something different, something neutral to focus their attention on.  His calm, neutral response diffused the explosion that was on the verge of happening.  Jesus stepped back and separated himself from the situation for a moment until everyone could get control of their emotions.  This is good advice for everyone, but most especially parents of small children.

The rest of the gospel tells us how Jesus turned this very explosive situation, into a very healing and restorative thing for everyone involved.  People are actually more important than the rules.   Sometimes an infraction of the rules is so bad that they have to be set aside for the moment, in order to love the person, apart from their sin.  People change because of love, not rules.  Rules were made for love, or out of love for one another.

The person is more precious to Jesus than the rules they have broken, or the sins they have committed.  This should be true for us as well.

TheCatholicWord.com

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