But Susanna cried aloud:“O eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be:you know that they have testified falsely against me. Here I am about to die, though I have done none of the things with which these wicked men have charged me.” The Lord heard her prayer. As she was being led to execution, God stirred up the holy spirit of a young boy named Daniel, and he cried aloud:“I will have no part in the death of this woman...return to court, for they have testified falsely against her.” –DN 13: 42-46, 49
Now that we are more than halfway through Lent—and the original zeal with which I made my Lenten commitments has started to wane—I’ve been thinking a lot about complacency and how often it firmly settles into my thoughts and actions, in ways big and small. For example, I can find it far too easy to ignore the suffering of others when I think it does not directly affect my everyday life (and especially when speaking up would potentially draw criticism or backlash, as threatening the status quo frequently does). But in reality, it does affect my life, whether I act or not. What hurts my brother or sister hurts me, if not materially, then spiritually; by the same token, when I see oppression of others and do nothing to help, I contribute to their oppression. It can be painful to realize ways in which I have contributed to unjust systems and benefitted at the expense of others, but the response I feel God calling me to is one of action, not ignorance.
Today’s readings—where God inspires Daniel to speak up and spare Susanna the injustice about to be rendered by the elders’ lies, and the Gospel where Jesus refuses to condemn the woman caught in adultery—spoke to me because of their clear rejection of complacency. How easy would it have been for Daniel to remain silent? He was clearly taking a risk by challenging the elders, but how much more powerful were his efforts when he followed God’s will and allowed God to work through him? In today’s world, how powerful would our combined efforts be if we trusted God the way Daniel did and answered the call to act for justice, seeing it as an emerging reality rather than an idealistic aspiration?
Lord, grant me the courage to do your will by acting for justice in the world and serving others. Please help me to recognize the need in those around me and inspire me to be—in the words of Pedro Arrupe, S.J.—a “man-or woman-for-others.”
Reflected by Erica Carroll