Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent
(Daniel 13:1-9.15-17.19-30.33-62; John 8:1-11)
Elderly people fear the loss of their minds. When they begin to forget names, they wonder if they are experiencing the effects of Alzheimer’s. When they no longer have the acuity to resolve conundrums, they believe that the end has begun. As terrible as loss of mental capacity with age is, it is even more tragic when old people act unwisely. This is seen in today’s first reading.
The old men lust after Susannah. They should not be condemned for having sexual desire which does not evaporate with age. But they are guilty of not controlling it. They certainly should have gained enough wisdom to recognize that sexual relations must be reserved for marriage. The young Daniel understands this truth as he cleverly ferrets out the lechers’ scheme. Jesus shows even more perspicacity in the gospel. He upholds justice as he tells the chastised woman “not to sin anymore.” More importantly, he teaches that mercy must temper justice. With a justice that is too strict for mercy, most people would suffer perpetual punishment.
Hopefully we have been chastened by almost five weeks of penance. After discovering how we offend God in both small and great ways, we can see more clearly the need of mercy. We are like that miserable woman standing in guilt before Jesus. Like her as well, we will be sent away forgiven and renewed to live righteously.