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Corruption and Injustice, Light and Darkness

Lenten meditations on justice and peace

Monday, March 30

readings: Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-26 -- John 8:12-20 -- Psalm 23

The story of Susanna is a tale of corruption and the unjust exercise of authority, as well as fortitude and courage and faith in God. Two wicked judges, motivated by lust, demand that a woman yield to their desires. She refuses and cries out for help. The judges accuse her of adultery, and claim that they surprised her in the act. She is condemned to death.

But Daniel speaks out against this injustice. He is not cowed by the age and respectability of the judges, he ignores their taunts regarding his youth. He separates the two wicked judges and questions them, finding discrepancies in their story. Their deeds come back on their heads, as they penalty they imposed on Susanna is carried out upon them.

Jesus is today speaking of light and darkness. If we follow Christ, we do not walk in darkness, rather, we have the "light of life". Faced with this bold declaration, the Pharisees quibble on points of evidence and law. Jesus rejects their fine points of procedure and cuts right to the chase. "You don't even know who I am, much less God." To know Jesus, is to know the Father.

These teachings were given by Jesus, right in the belly of the beast, so to speak, in the Treasury area of the Temple. He was speaking truth to power, questioning whether their allegiance to due process had anything to do with devotion to God and obedience to the commandments.

How often today are we faced with situations similar to those described in today's readings? How often are the innocent condemned (the poor are lazy, promiscuous, and replete with character deficiencies) by unjust and wicked judges (such as candidates for political office)?

And how often do we reject the prophets that God sends us today, preferring to quibble over how we shall fine-tune our processes, while nimbly evading any kind of substance at all? As though process had any particular relevance outside of something substantive. It is a mark of a degenerate and amoral society that process becomes an article of worship. We should probably remember that many of the people murdered by the Nazis had death certificates completed by bureaucrats. Many atrocities throughout history -- such as slavery and genocide -- have been completely "legal" in terms of being carried out under some form of "law" that described a process for committing the atrocity. Rule of Law is a fine thing, but we do well to ask -- whose Law?

Prayer intentions today:

+ For all those who are condemned unjustly, that they will have the courage and fortitude and faith of Susanna, we pray to the Lord.

+ For all wicked judges, that they will repent of their iniquities and do what is righteous, we pray to the Lord.

Praxis today:

+ Speak out against an injustice.

+ Plant some spring flowers.

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