Monday, March 10, 2008
Monday in the 5th Week of Lent
In the Valley of Accusation
Readings: Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 or 13:41c-62; Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6; John 8:1-11
Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side...
I trust that many of us will remember experiences of walking in a dark valley. Perhaps even now some of us may find ourselves in the midst of such a walk. Often we are driven into the dark valley by a variety of circumstances, many beyond our control: by bereavement or betrayal, by disaster or disappointment. But the darkness takes on a very specific form in today’s readings.
In the first reading, the virtuous Susanna is driven into the dark valley by the accusatory fingers of unscrupulous men. Her life hangs in the balance because she chooses not to give in to the lustful demands of her accusers. And, for a while at least, it does indeed seem as though the dark valley will swallow her whole. But God rewards her fidelity by inspiring the boy Daniel to save her. I fear no evil for you are at my side…
As consoling as Susanna’s story is, however, isn’t it true that we can’t always find comfort in it? For how many of us can truly claim to be always as blameless as she? Isn’t it true that the darkness in which we find ourselves can often be attributed as much to our own negligence and conscious choice as it is to the actions and machinations of others? What then? Are we condemned to dwell in the darkness with no chance of salvation?
Thankfully, the other story in our readings brings us comfort. Although, like Susanna, the woman in the gospel is also driven into a dark valley by accusatory fingers, she can make no claim to innocence. She has been caught in the act. Indeed that is the title by which we know her: the woman caught in adultery. But, wonder of wonders, even in the darkness of her guilt and shame, the psalmist’s prayer holds true: you are at my side… Jesus saves her from her tormentors and she is left alone with him. Guilty though she is, like Susanna before her, she too is led from darkness into the light. And, in her place, the guiltless One will submit himself to the baseless accusations of sinful people.
Isn’t this the moving testimony that our readings offer us today, especially those of us who might, even at this moment, be walking in a dark valley? Such is the power and desire of our God to save us that he reaches out to us even when we find ourselves in dark valleys of our own making. The only way in which the compassionate mercy of God can be thwarted is if, like the accusers of today’s readings, we refuse to see our own darkness and are preoccupied instead with pointing fingers at others. Much like those who enter the confessional only to confess the sins of others. Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone…
How is the Lord accompanying us in our dark valleys today?
Posted by Fr Chris at 5:06 pm