5th Week of Lent, Monday, Mar 30th

Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 / John 8:1-11 
People bring a sinner to Jesus: Jesus forgave the sinner.

These lines by an unknown poet strike a universal chord:
“How I wish that there was some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again,
Where all our mistakes and all our headaches ...
Could be dropped like a shaggy coat at the door,
And never put on again.”
There is such a wonderful place, and it’s located in the heart of Jesus. Jesus wasn’t interested in what a person was, but in what a person might become. Today’s reading is a classic example of this attitude of Jesus.
What is our attitude toward people: to be forgiving as Jesus was, or to be condemning as the Pharisees were?
“Teach me to feel another’s woe,
To hide the fault I see;
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.”
Alexander Pope, “The Universal Prayer”
It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness. It means that in the face of bad times or hopelessness, it is more worthwhile to do some good, however small, in response than to complain about the situation. But lighting that one single candle may not be as easy as it seems.

As in the case of Daniel in the 1st reading. When the Holy Spirit roused him, he had to make quick decisions. He had to go against the flow, go against what everybody else is thinking of doing and he had to act quickly in order to save Suzanna's life. He had to make his stand and shout "I am innocent of this woman's death!" Seen in that way, to light a single candle in the midst of an overwhelming darkness is certainly not easy.

And Jesus tells us this: I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark; he will have the light of life.

The darkness of this world wants to overwhelm us and make us forget that Jesus has given us the light of life. But when the Holy Spirit rouses us, may we follow His promptings and speak out like Daniel did.

When we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, then He will use our words to light candles and scatter the darkness.
Monday of 5th Week of Lent - Liturgy


The first reading is an addition from a later period to the Book of Daniel. Probably Shushanna (Lily) stands for faithful Israel. And so, in the form of an allegorical tale the story comments on the faithfulness of the pious Jews to Yahweh, notwithstanding corruption among (some of) the leaders. This popular tale was a warning against adultery, false witnessing and abuse of power, and an appeal for faithfulness in faith and marriage. In any case, the false accusers of the innocent are condemned themselves. Not only is the false accusation and condemnation of the innocent reproved, but even that of the guilty. The gospel story about the adulterous women (written possibly by Luke rather than John) tells us that Christ does not give up on sinners; he continues with them a dialogue of grace and forgiveness and invites them to love. Sin is not minimized, but God’s forgiveness is greater than our human reasoning. 

Penitential Rite:
-Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side, LHM
-With your rod and your staff that give me courage., CHM
-Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul, LHM

Opening Prayer 
Just and merciful God, you take pity even on sinners and you continue with them a dialogue of grace and hope. Help us too never to condemn, never to give up on people, but to be patient, understanding and forgiving, together with you and Jesus your Son who lives with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.

The stories of both Susanna and the adulterous woman, powerful expressions of justice and divine mercy, have had a troubled textual history. The Susanna story from the Book of Daniel is evidently an appendix to the original Hebrew and has come to us only in its Greek translation. The adulterous woman narrative is not found in any of the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts. There is further question as to its original provenance, since its language and style are not typically Johannine but seem to be more Lucan. That having been said, the narratives and their teaching remain perennially strong. The false accusations made against Susanna are overturned by the prophetic insight of the young Daniel. Her accusers are found guilty of slander, and she is completely exonerated. The story of the sinful woman of the Gospel leaves no doubt about her guilt or the malice of her accusers. The question posed to Jesus was more entrapment than a hoped-for sentence of death, since evidence indicates that the Jews in Roman times had no authority to render a death sentence. Jesus prescinds from the question of guilt or innocence. Was there a guiltless person in his audience who was in a position to move against the woman? One by one they take their leave. Left alone with the woman, Jesus sends her away in peace and exhorts her to sin no more. Forgiveness lies at the very center of Christ’s mission. For this he came into the world, to lift the sentence that lay upon us. It is this sense of forgiveness that permeates the whole of his mission, and he clearly indicates that his followers are to be like- minded. Forgive not seven times but seventy times seven. As Holy Week approaches, we are again reminded of the price of our exoneration. Regardless of the sin, forgiveness is ours for the asking. We are now called to extend that same spirit to others. 

Points to Ponder 
The death penalty and Catholic teaching
Forgiveness for the asking
Forgiveness of others when not asked
Personal reconciliation with God
The sacrament of reconciliation 

– For those among us for whom it is very hard to forgive those who have hurt us, that we may be Christian enough to pardon and seek reconciliation, we pray:
– For people who have been falsely accused, that the truth may prevail, we pray:
– For our communities, that we may still have a place for those who have erred, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts 
Lord God, almighty Father, you sent your Son among people to serve rather than to be served. Whatever power we have over others, whether much or little, may we never abuse it nor enjoy it for its own sake, but may we always use it to serve and to encourage, like Jesus, your Son in our midst who lives with you for ever. 

Prayer after Communion 
Merciful God, we have listened to the words of Jesus and we are convinced that he is the light of the world. Give us also a clearer insight and faith in what he did and does for people, his healing, his forgiveness, his unbounded love, for in them you bear witness to him that he is your beloved Son, our Savior and Lord. 

“I too do not condemn you.” May these be words we learn to say. Are we without sin? So, no stone-throwing on anyone. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.