Sunday, April 06, 2014

Thus Was Innocent Blood Spared

The whole assembly cried aloud, blessing God who saves those who hope in him.  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: they put them to death.  Thus was innocent blood spared that day.  Daniel 13:60-62

“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.  And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders.  So he was left alone with the woman before him.  Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  She replied, “No one, sir.”  Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”  John 8:7-11

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee like the accusers of Susanna and the woman caught in adultery.  We are not worthy for you to enter under our roof.  However, we know that all we have to do is turn to you and our sins will be forgiven.  Amen.

Easy it would be to write about the difference in the Lord sparing the innocent Susanna and forgiving the presumed guilty woman caught in adultery.  However, the different parallel is seen in the accusers. 
Jesus challenges them:  “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Such a line also could have been used by Daniel.  That approach might have saved Susanna, too, because the accusers in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are not without sin. 
The love that Jesus injects is to NOT condemn the accusers – either those who accuse the woman of adultery or those who accuse Jesus of heresy.  Even the accusers who have sinned will not be condemned by Jesus.  After all, he did not come into the world to condemn us but to save us. This shows how Jesus acts out the words from John’s Good News:  “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:17-18)
While Susanna’s innocent blood was spared and Lazarus was brought back to life, in the end, the innocent blood of Jesus will not be spared but it will flow out and back into the Earth until he redeems the sins of all accusers.

Who do you rush to judge?  Politicians?  Entertainers?  Business people who get rich off our work?  Your neighbor?  Have you spent time discerning if you are without sin?  Have you spent time considering whether they have truly sinned.  Do you have what it takes to cast the first stone?
We are in the prime season to participate in the sacrament of Reconciliation to atone for the sinfulness we share with all accusers.  Because of the central importance of Easter, the Church requires all Catholics who have made their First Communion receive the Holy Eucharist sometime during the Easter season, which lasts through Pentecost Sunday, 50 days after Easter.  We also should take part in the Sacrament of Penance before receiving this Easter communion. 
As we enter the final week of Lent before the Triduum, this reception of the Eucharist and Penance is a visible sign of our faith and our participation in the Kingdom of God. (Naturally, we can receive Communion daily or as frequently as possible.  Our "Easter Duty" is simply the minimum requirement set by the Church.)

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