We’re reading in our lenten liturgy today the story of Suzanna from the Book of Daniel and an account from the gospel of John of Jesus disputing with the leaders in the temple.
The story of Suzanna would make a great TV special. It deals with some of society’s big problems today. You can’t listen to it without thinking of our present efforts to stop violence against women and also our problems with sexual abuse. Last week those issues were considered at the United Nations.
Her story points out an important factor in the abuse of women that’s still with us today. It comes from an abuse of power. The two old men were Jewish judges with lots of power; they thought they could do anything they wanted. The abuse of power, combined with lust, is still behind so many of our sexual problems today. It’s found in the workplace, in politics, in the celebrity and sports world, and also unfortunately in the world of religion.
Suzannah refuses to give in to their advances and she finds a champion in Daniel who faces up to these powerful men.
I’d like to point out that the story of Suzanna is linked to the story of Jesus. He also faces an entrenched power in the temple, whose leaders reject him because they see him as a threat to their power. But he doesn’t deny who he is and so they decide to kill him.
Just as Daniel came to the aid of Suzannah, God, his Father, will raise Jesus from death and vindicate his claims.
Our readings remind us that it’s important to stand up for the truth and to fight against abuses of power wherever we find them. When we say we’re called to follow Christ in his passion, we mean we’re called to fight against injustice and stand up to it, like Suzannah and Daniel did.