Readings: Daniel 13:1-9,15-17,19-30,33-62, Ps. 23, John 8:1-11

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

What becomes of society when those entrusted with safeguarding justice and protecting human rights and dignity begin to perpetuate evil? The story of Susanna tells of the courage of a well-trained woman who preferred death to sin. The judges thought they could blackmail her, but God came to her rescue. In today’s Gospel passage, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus whom they accused of adultery. Like the Judges in our first reading, they thought they had cornered Jesus. A “Yes” or “No” from Jesus would be problematic. In the end, Jesus, God in human flesh, displayed a wisdom far superior to any human imagination. This brings us to our lessons for today:

1. Wisdom Doesn’t Necessarily Come With Age: Some people think that the older a person gets, the wiser they become, but this does not apply to everyone. You only get wiser if you have been growing in wisdom. Wisdom is not a product of age; it is not automatic, like the appearance of grey hair or wrinkled skin. Wisdom comes from having the fear of God and seeking out righteousness. The judges were respected for their old age but had become foolish due to their moral perversion.

2. Never Procrastinate Righteousness: I often hear young persons say they desire to enjoy (embrace sinful behaviours) their youthful days and draw closer to God in old age. However, no one is guaranteed a long life. Secondly, habits die hard. If you don’t stop filling your heart with immoral content, you are only going to get worse with time. If you don’t repent today, you will never repent again. The Judges lusted after Susanna because they lacked training in self-discipline. Start training yourself now like Susanna and Daniel, who, though young, were beacons of morality.

3. Never Assume Everybody is Doing It: Another mistake of the judges was to think that Susanna was a lost woman. There are still good people on planet Earth. What stops you from being the last man standing even if there aren't good people? What stops you from being the only chaste boy or girl who keeps their virginity till marriage and remains faithful afterwards? What stops you from being the only married man (or woman) without a side chick (or lover-boy)? Our society is not as evil as we think. It only needs role models – people who are prepared to die defending their values. Become one today.

4. Admit Your Weakness and Run: The judges knew they lusted after Susanna but kept going to Joakim’s house. Instead of minding their business, they fixed their gaze on Susanna while she walked in the garden. Learn to remove yourself from an environment or situation that can lead to sin. Do not give the devil an opportunity. Even if you think you are strong, you still have blood flowing. If David had not walked on the roof that afternoon, he probably would never have fallen for Beersheba.

4. There is a Daniel for Every Susanna: God kept quiet while the judges accused Susanna. This was a test for Susanna. God showed up through Daniel at the last minute when everyone thought it was over. Today's Psalmist sings: “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want… He is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness, no evil will I fear… You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes.” Do you feel like giving up? Are you tired of speaking your truth, and yet nobody believes you? Don’t worry. God is not yet asleep.

5. Say the Truth and Shame the Devil: The judges were exposed when they gave conflicting accounts of what happened to Susanna. Avoid telling lies. Every time we lie, we behave like the devil. Jesus said: “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and had nothing to do with the truth because there is no truth in him. He speaks according to his nature when he lies, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44).

6. Think and Pray before Speaking: Do not be too quick to respond when people bring stories about others. You can never tell if you are the target. Jesus bought time by writing on the ground. Jesus did not say, “Stone her” or “Don’t stone her.” He said: “Anyone without sin should be the first to stone her.” This way, Jesus helped the audience to notice the logs in their eyes. Learn to examine your heart before condemning others (or spreading gossip).

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, clean my heart from all impurity. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Monday of the 5th week of Lent. Bible Study: Daniel 13:1-9,15-17,19-30,33-62, Ps. 23, John 8:1-11).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu