Date: April 4
Lectionary Link: https://www.lectionarypage.net/WeekdaysOfLent/MondayFifthWeek.html
Contributor: Kathy Ackerman
Suzanna vs. the woman accused of adultery
I minored in teaching reading in college. I taught school for one year, then never again (long story), but I did retain one concept from my reading education program -- reading is a two-way street. What I mean by that is that not only is the reader affected by the material, the material is affected by the reader.
Today’s readings are a great case in point. The first thing that popped into my mind as I read the passages from Suzanna is “gee, this would make a great Law and Order, SVU episode.” My second thought was, “nice way to treat a perfectly decent upstanding woman. Patriarchy much?” My third thought was “where was Suzanna’s husband in all this?”
See what I did there? I imposed my own cultural/personal biases and preferences on a perfectly innocent piece of Scripture. What did it do to deserve that?
Same thing happens with the Gospel reading. My initial thought about the passage where the woman who was brought to Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees was “hm. Where’s the man who also committed adultery in all this?” My second thought was, “I’ve always wondered what Jesus was writing in the dirt.” Third thought, “well, at least the scribes and Pharisees had SOME self-awareness for them to slink off like that.”
There I go again. Imposing my own cultural/personal biases into a perfectly innocent Scripture reading.
THEN we get to Psalm 23. Uh, how does THIS fit in with the readings? I mean, the Good Shepherd Psalm wedged in with these readings? Have the compilers of the lectionary lost their ever-loving minds?
But then a phrase from that well-loved psalm starts working on me. “Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” The word “mercy” gets me to thinking. And now, the readings start working on ME!
Both Suzanna and that unnamed women were at the mercy of the leaders in their respective communities, who were very quick to judge. Yet God, by whispering in Daniel’s ear, shows mercy on Suzanna. In the Gospel reading, God, in the person of Jesus, shows mercy on that unnamed woman.
I have been a leader in this church community, and I’m a leader in my work community (comes with being at the job for a gazillion years). Have I, in my leadership roles, modeled my work on God’s mercy, or have I been like those elders in being too quick to judge and too slow to mercy? And thus, the Scriptures – and through them, God – work on me. Amen.