Monday, March 14, 2016

Have the Light of Life

“Are you such fools, O children of Israel! To condemn a woman of Israel without examination and without clear evidence?  Daniel 13:48

Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
(Easter 1916 by William Butler Yeats)

Coming on the heels of Sunday’s reading about the Woman Accused of Adultery, the image of Jesus as Merciful Judge is complemented by today’s passages.  Daniel shows how he foreshadows the wise judge by not only doubting the accusations against Susanna but also by trapping the accusers.  Susanna was pious and trained in the Law of Moses which means she knew the punishment for adultery.

We now have three consecutive examples of merciful judges withholding condemnation.  First, Nicodemus encouraged his fellow Pharisees not to pass judgment on Jesus without giving the Lord his day in court.  Then Jesus showed how he refused to condemn the woman accused of adultery.  Now, Daniel adds to the list of wise judges. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.  (John 3:17)

Jesus’ purpose is to save, but his coming provokes judgment; some condemn themselves by turning from the light.[i]  His presence also provokes mercy and forgiveness. 

With the vigorous political debate going on, it is easy to jump from one accusation to another.  I have one friend who has declared a moratorium on participating in the political debate because things are getting to contentious. 

“Our nation seems to have lost a sense of the importance of cultivating friendships as fellow citizens who, being equal, share much in common,” Archbishop Blase Cupich said in a homily Saturday (March 12) at Old St. Patrick’s Church.

“Instead, our politics and public discourse are often marked by enmity and animosity,” he said.[ii]

“There is an overly competitive character that defines how we relate to one another, emphasizing what divides us rather than what we share in common,” Cupich said. “And because we do not value growing together, a cancer is developing that threatens to harm us all. Positions harden, progress is stalled, and it is becoming clear that the body politic is nearing the limits of how much suffering it can endure.”

Otherwise, he said, “When the common good of all is not the aim of society’s growth, whether that be in the economy, education, civil rights or civic participation, a cancer grows that damages the whole social body.”

We know that the political season will carry on through November and beyond.  In any political discourse, let us all seek to emulate the wise and merciful judges we have witnessed in the Good News these past three days.

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